When buying a new vehicle, you don't have to give up style for safety. You can find safe vehicles in various models and price groups. Here are some safety features to consider.
Electronic Stability Control
This technology, an extension of antilock braking, lowers the risk of a fatal crash rollover by as much as 80 percent. It is designed to prevent loss of control while driving at a high speed. Stability control engages automatically to help bring the vehicle back in the intended line of travel on turns and slippery roads.
Vehicle size and weight don't tell the whole story. Some lighter-weight models have more crashworthy designs than heavier ones. A good structural design will have a strong occupant compartment and crumple zones to absorb the force of a serious crash. You can review crash test and rollover ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at www.safercar.gov and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety at www.iihs.org/ratings.
An antilock braking system, or ABS, prevents wheels from locking during emergency braking. Drivers using ABS can stop the car and retain control without pumping the brakes.
Dual-stage and dual-threshold airbags are recommended because drivers risk injury if airbags deploy with too much force. Advanced frontal airbags inflate with a force that is specific to the severity of the crash and the weight of the driver or passenger, as well as their distance from the airbag.
Side airbags protect the torso, pelvis and head. Studies show that these can substantially reduce the fatality risk in serious side impacts.
Head restraints are designed to prevent whiplash. When a vehicle is struck from the rear, the occupant is moved forward with the seat. If the head isn't properly supported, the neck will bend and stretch backward, resulting in whiplash. Head restraints should be adjustable and support the biggest part of your head.
Look for ease of entry and exit, leg room and size and location of control buttons. It's also a good idea to find out the safety rating for the seat configuration. Some seat styles are safer than others.
View Smart Features for Mature Drivers for more recommendations.