Safety: Here's what you should be looking for in your next car
Our Road Safety Authority expert on potential life-savers you could have working for you
As many as 1.3 million people die on the roads every year globally. That's the same as an aeroplane falling out of the sky every two hours.
Research shows the risk of fatal injury in a crash has been reduced by 66pc in the best-performing cars, thanks to modern safety elements.
One of the benefits of technological advancement is that more and more vehicle safety items are developed each year.
Such elements are more important than ever, whether they help control the vehicle more effectively or give us a gentle reminder we need a coffee break.
Take Electronic Stability Control (ESC) for example, a term frequently used in motoring terminology and probably one of the most important safety innovations since the seatbelt.
Imagine you're travelling at 100kmh and come around a bend to meet a large area of surface road water.
It's too late to avoid it so you hit the water and your car aquaplanes. Panic sets in so you try to correct the skidding but end up over-steering.
Without ESC, it's likely you'll either end up in the ditch or overturning. With ESC, your car takes over and uses computer controlled technology to apply individual brakes and help bring it safely back on track, without the danger of skidding or fish-tailing.
Research in the UK indicates that equipping a vehicle with ESC reduces the risk of being involved in a fatal crash by 25pc.
Vehicle safety can be divided into four main categories. They are worth looking for when buying a new or used car:
• Safety restraints - 3-point seatbelts, Isofix child restraint anchors, inflatable rear safety belts, active head restraints
• Airbags - front, side and knee.
•Crumple zones - areas to absorb impact.
• Roll-over protection - protects you when the vehicle overturns/rolls over.
• Pre-crash sensor systems - car senses a collision and automatically activates safety items such as seatbelt tensors, airbags.
• E-call - automatically calls the emergency services.
•Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) - Lets you can brake and steer.
• Electronic Braking Systems (EBS) - applies braking pressure to each wheel to maximise stopping power while keeping the vehicle in control.
• Electronic Stability Control - uses ABS and traction control to reduce the danger of your vehicle skidding.
• Tyre Pressure Monitoring - dashboard signal warns when tyre pressure is low.
• Emergency brake assist - applies more brake force automatically.
• Automatic braking - senses a collision and brakes automatically.
• Adaptive cruise control - automatically adjusts the vehicle speed to maintain a safe distance to the vehicle ahead.
• Hill launch assist - prevents the vehicle from rolling when a hill start is needed
• Safety Assist - safety belt reminder.
• Speed alert systems - tells you if you're over the speed limit or too near car in front.
• Lane support - warns if you're drifting from lane.
• Fatigue alert - monitors and alerts if you're drowsy.
• Alcohol/drug ignition interlock (above) - breath-measuring instrument can prevent car being started if driver's breath alcohol/drug concentration is high.
• Daytime running lights (DRL) - lights automatically turn on. These increase visibility during the day.
• Reversing collision avoidance/intelligent parking systems - sensors assist you to reverse or park by warning them if another vehicle, pedestrian or object is nearby.
• Blind spot monitoring - detects other vehicles to the side/rear.
• Adaptive front lighting systems - headlights adapt to suit the road conditions (and when turning corners the lights will also follow the curve of the road).
• Emergency stop signal (ESS) - activates the hazard lights if you brake suddenly.
• Night vision enhancement - system uses infrared camera to improve vision in murky/dark conditions.
• Automatic High Beam - switches beam to reduce any dazzle.