Thinking of car safety, it’s critical to know all the facts, especially when you’re considering purchasing a new or used car. We look at some of the age old questions about motor vehicle safety and provide the definitive answers once and for all!
No.1 – Older vehicles are bigger and heavier, so they must be safer.
A classic myth – FALSE! In fact accident statistics show older vehicles are NOT as safe on average as newer vehicles, as they have fewer safety features and a less sophisticated design. They often weigh less than their modern counterparts too, as safety equipment and stronger structures, as well as things like heavier transmissions, all add to the weight of new, more modern vehicles.
No.2 – The safer a vehicle is – the more expensive it is.
We would have to say this one is FALSE – Actually many reasonably priced vehicle models score very well in the safety ratings; sometimes even better than many of the more expensive models. Be sure to check out the SGIO “Car Inspector App” for the latest safety ratings before you buy any new vehicle. Available on the App Store or Google Play.
No.3 – Airbags can activate accidentally and cause accidents or injury.
FALSE – well, in Australia anyway! There have been incidents in the USA, but because Australia has very high seatbelt compliance rates, airbags in Australian cars are set to trigger at higher road speeds than in US motor vehicles, as such they are considerably less likely to deploy without reason. There have been NO reported cases in Australia of any major accidents or injuries caused by inflating airbags.
No.4 – Dogs are safer in a pet harness when travelling in the car.
Yes, no doubt this is TRUE – as long as you have the correct harness fitted. In a collision, an unrestrained dog can suffer serious injuries, as well as injure other passengers. A recent study conducted by one of Australia’s leading insurance companies tested a variety of dog safety harnesses using life-sized and correctly weighted dog ‘dummies’.
Of the 25 pet harnesses tested across a range of manufacturers, all but two failed to restrain the dummy, due to the use of weak plastic buckles similar to those used on most backpacks. Before buying a pet harness we suggest you check to make sure it is approved under the appropriate Australian Standard – ask your retailer for more information. (Source: SGIO Insurance)
No.5 – You have to brake differently if your car has ABS.
Absolutely TRUE – ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) works by releasing the brakes at the moment of wheel lock-up. This happens many times a second, and may make both the car and brake pedal shudder. For ABS to work properly you need to keep constant firm pressure on the pedal – think ‘Stomp and Steer’. In older vehicles without ABS we were always taught to pump the brakes in a slide – on, off, on, off etc.
“Most people don’t brake hard enough. That’s a skill that’s best learned by going to an accident avoidance or winter driving school. People buy fast, expensive cars and expect the car’s traction and stability controls to keep them safe. Driving schools teach you the minimum needed to get your license. What saves your life is learning to read the road, anticipate and recognise potential dangers, know your own limits and use skills of accident avoidance.”