How Safe Is Your Vehicle?
Safe vehicles play an important role in reducing the likelihood and severity of a crash. Whether you drive a car or ride a motorcycle, this is one of the most effective ways of protecting yourself and your family while on the road.
Vehicle safety has little to do with the size, class or cost of your vehicle. Within each class, price range, and plate year there are 4 and 5-star options. Explore the possibilities. Make the safer choice.
TODAY’S VEHICLES ARE DESIGNED WITH PRIMARY SAFETY TECHNOLOGIES THAT PREVENT CRASHES FROM OCCURRING AND SECONDARY SAFETY FEATURES THAT REDUCE IMPACT AND HARM IN THE EVENT OF A CRASH.
Avoiding a Crash
These vehicle safety features reduce the risk of a crash on the road.
ELECTRONIC STABILITY CONTROL (ESC)
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is an active safety system that reduces the risk of a driver losing control of the vehicle and helps reduce the chances of single vehicle or off-path crashes.
ESC builds upon features such as Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) and Traction Control to stabilise the vehicle when it deviates from the driver’s steered direction.
ANTI-LOCK BRAKING SYSTEM (ABS)
An Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) is a system which prevents the wheels from locking while braking.
An ABS allows the driver to maintain steering control under heavy breaking by preventing a skid and allowing the wheel to continue to forward roll and create lateral control, as directed by driver steering inputs.
ACTIVE BRAKING SYSTEMS
Active Braking Systems uses a collection of vehicle sensors that monitors the presence of vehicles ahead and around the vehicle.
It also has the ability to detect any situation where there's an impending collision with another vehicle.
AUTONOMOUS EMERGENCY BRAKING
Autonomous Emergency Braking is a safety system in motor vehicles designed to ensure maximum braking power is used in an emergency stop situation.
By interpreting the speed and force with which the brake pedal is pushed, the system detects if the driver is trying to execute an emergency stop.
If the brake pedal is not fully applied, the system overrides and fully applies the brakes until the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) takes over to stop the wheels locking up.
Traction Control prevents a driver losing control of the vehicle during acceleration.
The safety feature measures rotational speed of the wheels and reduces wheel spin to improve the driver’s control and vehicle stability during acceleration, even on slippery or wet roads.
The safety feature applies the brakes and reduces power to enhance grip and traction allowing a driver to accelerate in control and safely.
Lane Departure Warning System
The Lane Departure Warning System is activated by a series of sensors that detects if the vehicle has deviated from the driving lane.
The warning system alerts the driver to take corrective action, preventing the vehicle from running off the road or avoiding a collision with another vehicle.
Intelligent Speed Assist
When a driver exceeds the posted speed limit on the road, Intelligent Speed Assist alerts the driver to reduce their traveling speed.
The safety feature is designed to activate the driver using alarms and/or lights when the systems GPS detects the vehicle is moving faster than the set speed on that road.
It also alerts the driver to changes in speed limit during their journey.
In-vehicle driver drowsiness or fatigue detection systems have been commonly utilised by the commercial driving and heavy vehicle industries to monitor the fatigue level of drivers.
The system prompts the driver to stop and take a break if it detects the driver’s eyes droop, or the vehicle deviates from the path of the lane.
The safety feature is increasingly being included in passenger vehicles and activates a warning alarm instructing the driver to stop driving, reducing the risk of a fatigue-related crash.
These features reduce the risk of death or serious injury in the even of a road crash.
A seatbelt reduces the risk of death or serious injury for a motor vehicle occupant involved in a crash by around 50%.
Seatbelt safety has evolved over the past 50 years from the original sash design seatbelts to the innovative three point seatbelts with pretensioner technology, webbing clamps, load limiters and adjustable anchorage points to reduce injury risk and prevent occupants being ejected from the vehicle in a crash.
All occupants need to be secured appropriately, including infants and young children, with manufacturers fitting child car restraint anchor points in vehicles.
Head rests are designed to limit extreme backward movement of a motor vehicle occupants head when a vehicle is involved in a crash.
Also known as head restraints, the important safety feature should be fitted to all front and rear seats in a vehicle to reduce the risk of whiplash injuries to the occupants.
Vehicle crumple zones absorb the impact of a crash and reduce the risk of injury to the vehicle occupants.
The outside structure of the vehicle is manufactured using strengthened steels, carbon fibre or plastic and is designed to crumple on impact and provide a safety cage protective pod around occupants of a motor vehicle.
Air bags are designed to deploy in a crash to reduce the risk of death or serious injury in a crash.
Air bags were first installed as a safety feature to protect the driver from injury on impact with the steering wheel, but they now provide safety for all vehicle occupants with the installation of frontal, knee, sides, centre-mounted and curtain airbags.
Manufacturers have also considered other road users outside the vehicle, designing pedestrian airbags that are fitted to windscreen of a vehicle to protect the head of a pedestrian or cyclist struck by the vehicle.
Laminated Safety Glass
Manufacturers must adhere to the Vehicle Standard Australian Design Rule in the manufacture of vehicle windows.
A laminated, high strength glass must be used, as it is more resistant to shattering, remains intact even when broken, reducing injury to occupants and damage to side and curtain airbags in a crash and will help to prevent a driver or passenger being ejected in a crash or rollover.
ANCAP SAFETY RATING
Vehicles are independently assessed and rated by ANCAP, with each vehicle tested being appointed a safety rating between 1-5 stars.
ANCAP ratings indicate the level of safety a vehicle provides for occupants and pedestrians in the event of a crash, as well as its ability - through technology - to avoid or minimise the effects of a crash.
These ratings are used to compare the relative safety between vehicles of similar mass, e.g. SUV vs SUV.
You have twice the chance of being killed in a 3-star ancap rated car than a 5-star ancap rated car.
Cars are tested in a number of front-on and side impact situations. Performance tests include Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane Support Systems (LSS) and Speed Assistance Systems (SAS).
To achieve the maximum 5-star ANCAP safety rating, a vehicle must achieve the highest standards in all tests and feature advanced safety assist technologies.
The most important safety mechanism in a motorcycle is an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), which is what allows you to apply the brakes with force, without the wheels locking up and control being lost.
Statistics show that ABS assists in 93% of crash situations.
Another thing to consider is your power-to-weight ratio - as it increases, so too does your risk of serious injury.
For example, a 200cc motorcycle is estimated to have ten times the odds of an injury crash than a 100cc motorcycle.
Finally, remember that choosing the right gear for your ride is just as important a safety decision as your choice of motorcycle.
To ensure maximum protection, choose MotoCAP approved jackets, pants and gloves, and Australian standard helmets.
Heavy Vehicles + Fleet
Your vehicle is your workplace, so it should be as safe as can be.
Businesses that manage fleet vehicles should choose the highest ANCAP safety rating possible and replace fleet vehicles every five years to stay on top of technological improvements.
Some of the latest trucks now come standard with innovative fatigue-monitoring systems, which could pave the way for more personalised hours-of-service regulations and alert drivers who show significant signs of fatigue.
While newer doesn’t necessarily mean ‘safer’, each new year brings advances in safety features, such as lane departure warnings and blind spot monitoring.
It’s a myth that buying a safer car means buying a more expensive car.
It’s important for parents to prioritise safety features when helping their children select a first car and to buy the safest car you can afford.
The safest vehicle in each class will reduce serious injuries.
For guidance, take a look through the used car safety guide.