Safety should be be one of your top priorities when you’re trying to work out how practical a car is.
It’s not like you’re actively seeking a hospital stay after all, is it?
No-one wants to put their family and loved ones at risk when they’re driving, so finding a car with high quality safety features is something we should all be doing anyway.
Car leasing lets you get your hands on some of the newest vehicles around and that means that they’re likely to benefit from the latest safety tech and features. Here’s a rundown of how safety is tested in lease cars and the type of features you can expect to see in them to help you choose a car.
Short for the European New Car Assessment Programme, Euro NCAP is a ratings programme that tests the safety of new cars, according a set of specific criteria. Each car is given a rating based on a five star system for a number of different fields. The best score the car can get for each is five stars. The worst score is one star. By extension, that means that if you’re looking for a car that’s considered really safe to drive and ride in, you should look for one with a high amount of stars.
There is also the Euro NCAP Advanced award too, for companies that are developing the very latest technology.
There are four different ways that Euro NCAP tests the safety of cars: Adult Occupant Protection, Child Occupant Protection, Vulnerable Roads Users Protection and Safety Assist.
#1 — Adult Occupant Protection
How well the front two seats of the car are protected is worked out from front impact, side impact and whiplash tests. There are six tests which are called:
- Offset Deformable Barrier test (ODB)
- Full Width Rigid Barrier
- Side Mobile Barrier
- Side Pole
- Whiplash test
- AEB City
#2 — Child Occupant Protection
Child Occupant Protection tests are, as you guessed, test how well children at the back of the vehicle are protected.
Frontal and side impact tests are carried out again, as well looking at what type of safety features there are in the car for children and how effective the car is at allowing child restraints of different shapes and sizes to be used.
- Child Restraint Performance CRS
- Vehicle provisions
- CRS Installation Check
#3 — Vulnerable Road Users (VRU)
This test is about working out how much damage could be caused to a pedestrian, cyclist or another non-car road user in an accident.
- Head impact
- Upper leg impact
- Lower leg impact
- AEB Pedestrian
- AEB Cyclist
#4 — Safety Assist
The final part of the testing looks at the what types of safety technology are provided in the car and how well they work in terms of functionality and performance.
- Electronic Stability Control
- Seatbelt Reminders
- Special Assistance
- AEB Interurban
- Lane Support
The standard car safety features
Some safety features are so effective and well designed that the basic principle of them hasn’t changed in thirty years.
You’d be surprised at the amount of people that still can’t get it into their heads that wearing a seatbelt can often mean the difference between life and death in a really serious accident.
Seatbeats are designed to keep you in your seat if there’s a really sudden collision. They’ll absorb, and redistribute, some of momentum that your body gathers when an impact flings you forward, significantly reducing the risk of death or serious injury.
A lot of people aren’t aware that rear passengers can often end up severely injuring front seat passengers if they aren’t wearing a seatbelt themselves. So, not only is wearing a seatbelt protection for yourself, it’s also protection for your passengers too. Buckle up.
Airbags have been a standard safety feature on nearly all new cars since the late 90s. They’re designed to cushion the impact of a collision and, mainly, to stop you from hitting your head on the dashboard.
It’s essentially a small balloon that is triggered when sensors detect a collision. It rapidly inflates within a matter of milliseconds, cushioning the blow and then rapidly deflates, so that you don’t get smothered by it – let’s face it, if you’ve just survived a massive car crash, the last thing you want is to get suffocated by a balloon.
Frontal airbags are the most common type, but most new cars have side airbags too which can provide extra cushioning in the event of an impact.
Anti-lock braking (ABS braking)
Before anti-lock braking was invented, there was the real risk of losing control of your vehicle when braking very suddenly, with the wheels locking and becoming unresponsive. Anti-lock braking stops this from happening,
It works on the principle of threshold braking – a technique actually used by racing drivers – where an exact amount of pressure is applied to the brake so it reaches the point where it just slips, and cadence braking – where the brake is pumped in short bursts to maintain control.
Electronic sensors will detect when your car is skidding and will apply automatically, without you having to do anything. Hopefully, this will help you regain control of the car. Nifty, eh?
Modern car safety features
Safety features have massively improved in recent years, with the development of digital technology. They’ve become increasingly integrated into the systems of the car itself, allowing them to be much more effective. Here’s three of the most useful:
Emergency calling (eCall)
A lot of cars have an emergency call option and SOS embedded into their infotainment systems. Take the new MINIs and a lot of new Vauxhall models for instance.
This really useful feature detects when you’re involved in a serious collision, will identify your location and contact the emergency services.
They don’t seem as revolutionary as they once were, but parking sensors are still a pretty nifty bit of kit, taking the hassle out of parallel parking and stopping you from mowing down an old woman in the Asda carpark.
With pedestrian monitoring, a tiny stereoscopic sensor in the car detects subtle, human movement at slow speeds, helping to keep you aware of any hazards up ahead. Some systems might brake automatically if the sensor thinks that there’s a high risk of hitting the pedestrian.
Blind spot detection
Similar to the tech used in pedestrian monitoring and parking sensors, blind spot detection identifies vehicles approaching (you guessed it) the blind spot of your car and signals to them that they shouldn’t change lane using lights.