As more and more advanced safety features are available in cars, it seems that safety is finally becoming the new standard for car manufacturers. So, what makes a car ‘safe’ and why is it so important to consider buying one? It’s not always as clear to the average consumer, especially since there’s so many gadgets and features in new cars, and car makers can be guilty of using too much marketing hype.
But if you look through all the fancy marketing-speak and jargon, you’ll see that these features are in fact saving lives.
The numbers don’t lie
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) compiles statistics on car crashes. It also publishes reports on the effectiveness of safety measures in saving lives, minimizing crashes, or avoiding an accident altogether. In 2016, there were an estimated 7,277,000 car crashes. Of that number, nearly 30 percent resulted in injuries and .5 percent involved a fatality.
The silver-lining in all of this? The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has studied crash-avoidance features in vehicles and recently found that several of the safety features are reducing crashes and are saving lives. Even better, car insurance companies like Elephant are actually rewarding drivers who choose to drive these life-saving cars by giving them discounts on their insurance premiums. Since safety features help lower the cost and number of accidents on the road, Elephant passes those savings onto drivers who choose to drive cars equipped with these features.
But what makes a car safe?
When you are looking for a car, Elephant believes safety should be a top concern. Today’s car manufacturers know how important safety is to consumers, but they don’t always do a great job at explaining what it means to be safe.
When it comes down to it, there are four key factors that determine a vehicle’s level of safety. If you incorporate those into your car-buying research, you will have a better chance of purchasing a safer car. Those key factors are: Safety equipment, vehicle weight, and vehicle center of gravity. The IIHS has set a number of effectiveness standards for various safety features that are installed on vehicles. They also perform rigorous crash tests on vehicles – with higher standards than even the NHTSA.
To put it simply, heavier, newer cars with a lower center of gravity tend to be safer overall.
The term “crash avoidance” is actually a broad term that includes a number of features that assist the driver in operating the vehicle in a safer manner. Front crash prevention helps prevent one vehicle from rear ending another. In one IIHS study, this system reduces accidents by 27 percent. However, when automatic braking is added to the system, that number rises to nearly half.
Blind-spot detection also falls under the crash-avoidance umbrella and studies show it reduces the number of crashes due to lane changing by 14 percent.
Backup cameras have been shown to reduce accidents ( less insurance claims) and they lessen any damage or injury severity that’s caused in a back-up crash. They act as another set of eyes, allowing the driver to see in what would typically be blind spots in the rear of the vehicle. One IIHS study found that they help prevent back-up accidents by reducing the blind zone about 90 percent of the time.
Lane-departure warnings alert a driver when the car veers out of its own lane. This important safety feature has garnered a lot of praise due to its ability to help prevent all severities of head-on crashes and single vehicle sideswipe by around 11 percent. It also decreases the instance of injury from these types of crashes by 21% and the fatality rate by over 80%.
Distracted driving is a major cause of accidents in the United States and cell phone use while behind the wheel is one of the most common distractions. To keep drivers’ eyes and attention on the road instead of what’s on their phone screens, hands-free technology has been introduced, with Bluetooth at the forefront. Studies that show this measure helps reduce distracted driving accidents while other studies show little change. The bottom line is, it’s better to refrain from operating your cell phone in any way while behind the wheel and keep both eyes (and all your attention) on the road.
Safe Cars 2018: Top Safety Picks from the IIHS
If you are in the market for a new car and you want one that is safe and could save you money on insurance, the IIHS provides valuable information on what’s available. Each year they release a list of the safest cars based on some tough criteria and standards. The most important thing about these cars is that they provide you and your family the highest level of protection while on the road.
But cars with these types of features go above and beyond just keeping you safe – they can also provide you discounts on your car insurance when you insure with Elephant because when drivers choose safety, they deserve to be rewarded.