Key safety features to look for and what models show the best results
VANCOUVER, Jan. 18 /CNW/ - What better way to kick-off a new year than
with a new vehicle purchase? If you've found the model that has the
right look, price and size for you, have you also considered how it
will protect you and your passengers?
Any vehicle purchase is a significant investment but for a small price
differential, you could be getting a whole lot more protection. Buying
a vehicle with high standard safety features can not only protect you
but also reduce the likelihood of you even being in a crash.
Many key safety features to look for are readily available, even on used
vehicles which make up the majority of vehicle purchases in B.C.
Here are ICBC's top five tips for buying a safer vehicle:
No. 1 - Belt up: This may seem obvious since seatbelts have been mandatory in vehicles
for as long as we can remember but they are still the most important
safety device in a vehicle. Contrary to what we might think, seatbelts
can vary in design and effectiveness and have improved in performance
over the years. Look for shoulder harnesses on all rear seats. Height
adjustable shoulder belts ensure you can adjust the seatbelt to fit
each passenger correctly. Seatbelt pretensioners retract the belt to
remove excess slack in a crash, which can dramatically reduce the
severity of injuries.
No. 2 - Full of air: The effectiveness of a good, properly worn seatbelt improves
dramatically when combined with the protection offered by airbags. As
with seatbelts, they have evolved and improved over the years too.
Advanced front airbags have sensors that actually measure the
occupant's size, seat position and crash severity to determine the
inflation levels for the driver and passenger, which also reduces the
risk of airbag-related injuries. Side airbags are a great feature too
as they offer increased protection for the head and torso in a
No. 3 - Take a break: We've come a long way in terms of how technology has improved vehicle
safety in recent years and this is no more evident than with the
development of anti-lock brakes (ABS). Driving in wintery, wet and icy
road conditions is never easy but can be helped with a vehicle that
offers dramatically more control on slippery streets. ABS prevents a
car's wheels from locking, allowing you to maintain steering ability
and avoid skidding while braking.
No. 4 - Under control: While we're talking clever technology, electronic stability control
(ESC) is another great development in recent years that has helped
drivers maintain control on slippery roads or during unexpected
manoeuvres such as sudden swerving or braking. The ESC system
selectively applies the vehicle's brakes and/or reduces the engine's
power to keep the vehicle moving in the driver's intended direction,
preventing loss of control. ESC works best at reducing the risk of a
vehicle rollover, particularly with sport utility vehicles (SUVs), some
vans and pick-up trucks. ESC will be mandatory on all new models
manufactured from September 2011 (2012 models).
No. 5 - Keep level headed: A correctly adjusted head restraint significantly reduces the risk of
soft-tissue neck and back injuries during a crash. Whiplash is the most
common type of injury in crashes - more than 70 per cent of people
injured report a soft tissue injury to their neck and/or back. The most
effective way to prevent whiplash injuries are to purchase a vehicle
with a head restraint rated as good by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). To ensure the
head restraint is adjusted correctly, raise your headrest so the top of
it is at least level with the top of your ears. Your head restraint
should also be as close as possible to the back of your head. Closer
head restraints can be twice as effective in preventing injuries as
those that are set too far back
IIHS is a great resource for researching vehicle safety including their 2011 Top Safety Pick Awards, which look beyond the safety basics for more unseen criteria such as
roof strength. The other key rating body is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
As always, icbc.com is a great resource too. Make sure you reference our
safer vehicle comparison checklist. And remember, any time you're thinking of buying a used vehicle, make
sure you have a safety check performed by a professional, reputable
mechanic who can ensure key features such as brakes and tires are up to
current standards and in good working order.
Importantly, always remember that we as drivers are ultimately most
responsible for our own protection. Even the best safety technology
cannot override your vehicle's physical limits. If you push your
vehicle's handling too far, you can still be involved in a serious
crash. Drive smart.
Journalists: If you'd like to be notified by email whenever we issue a
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At ICBC, we're committed to our 3.2 million customers and their safety
on the road. We license and insure drivers and vehicles across the
province through our service centres, plus a network of more than 900
independent brokers and government agent offices. Claims customers are
served through local offices and our award-winning Dial-a-Claim call
centre. We add value to B.C. communities - our road safety investments
help create safer roads, lead to fewer crashes, and help keep our rates
stable. To find out more, visit icbc.com.
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For further information:
Media contacts: Adam Grossman, 604-982-1332