To help you draw a clear picture of what to look for, we've put together a list of the safety features you should seek out when shopping for a new car.
Airbags: as many as you can get
While it can often seem a case of 'the more the merrier', airbag technology that focuses on head protection and side impact, along with driver's knee protection, is becoming increasingly prevalent.
System availability can differ from car to car, even within a given model's line-up, but a check over the car's safety ratings will help guide you.
Parking cameras/sensors, and rear-cross traffic alert
Yes, cameras and sensors help you to park without dinging your car - but they're also an extra set of eyes in case anything pops up while you're reversing.
It's not necessarily a safety feature for those inside the car, but for the people around it. That's just as important. And rear-cross traffic alert can see potential hazards passing behind you even when you can't.
Simply, when your car is engaged in reverse, sensors located on the rear corners of cars equipped with the feature will scan for any out-of-sight approaching traffic behind you and will sound an alert. You can read a detailed explanation of how it works here.
Adaptive cruise control
Adaptive cruise control (ACC) is the latest-and-greatest evolution of the cruise control technologies that have been around for many years now. With ACC, you can set your desired speed and then know that the vehicle will automatically reduce speed if it comes up behind a slower-moving car.
Combined with Autonomous emergency braking (below), this system can save you from a bingle, and potentially save lives.
Auto emergency braking and forward collision warning
Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) use a number of sensors to stop your vehicle and avoid cars or obstacles ahead.
Some cars only have the system installed for low-speed circumstances, while others will provide a warning to the driver when a potential collision is imminent. The brakes will then engage if the driver does not respond.
The technology has a number of different names, depending on the manufacturer, so ask a car dealer for the exact details.
It's a basic system but one that avoids awkward moments.
Blindspot assist will give you a warning light on your side mirrors to let you know there is a car alongside you that you may not otherwise see. It's simple, but it works.
Lane-keeping alert and assistance
If you're travelling on a road marked by clear lanes, your car will alert you if you begin travelling outside of the white lines. Some systems even make minor assistive corrections to your steering inputs to ensure you stay between the marked lanes.
While it's not needed if you can stick to your lane, it's a failsafe to ensure you're still doing the right thing and are at the top of your game.
Your driving skills shouldn't stop improving after you pass a test in your teens. Defensive and advanced driver training programs are an effective way to make sure you're a better and safer driver on the road. All of the above safety features are there for emergencies and as back-up to your own driving, not an extension of it.
At the very least, learning the new skills is fun.
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) is an independent vehicle safety advocate. CarAdvice has detailed reviews of hundreds of new cars every year and includes a car's ANCAP safety rating which has become the industry standard.
Crash tests, crumple zones, airbags and more are all rated and CarAdvice can give you the safety ratings you need to know.
And don't forget to 'Ask CarAdvice' if you have any other questions. We're here to help.
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