Regardless of your driving ability, you can’t always prevent an accident. There are simply too many other drivers out there. However, safe driving can greatly reduce your chances of ending up in a fender bender. Because of this, insurance companies often allow discounts if your vehicle has certain safety features. To increase your driving safety and reduce your insurance premiums, you should consider the following accident-prevention features:
- Anti-lock brakes:
When you slam on your brakes with a conventional brake system, the wheels can lock and cause skidding, which may cause you to lose control. Anti-lock brakes, however, automatically pump many times a second to prevent lockup, enabling you to maintain control. The overall effectiveness of anti-lock brakes is currently being debated, and the National Highway Safety Council has even noted a higher incidence of fatal crashes in cars with anti-lock brake systems. However, most experts still believe that anti-lock brakes are a good safety option and that the higher crash rate is due to people being unfamiliar with using them. The correct way to use anti-lock brakes is to apply steady pressure to the brake pedal. It is dangerous to pump anti-lock brakes. If the brake pedal starts pulsating as you hold it down, that means the brakes are working. Continue to apply the same level of pressure.
- Daytime running lights:
These lights function during daytime hours and are typically high-beam headlights at a reduced intensity. Daytime running lights make the vehicle stand out from their background making it more visible to oncoming drivers. This feature is now required in Canada and several European countries, where it’s been found to reduce daylight car-to-car crashes. If your car doesn’t have this feature, consider keeping your low-beam headlights on during the day.
Upon impact, sensors trigger airbags to instantly inflate, creating a cushion between the occupant’s upper body and the steering wheel, instrument panel or windshield. Full inflation takes about 1/20 of a second, and deaths are less common in accidents where airbags have been used (20% less in frontal collisions, 15% in all crashes). Because airbags inflate with such quick force, vehicle occupants should avoid sitting with their faces or chests close to the steering wheel or dashboard. In particular, children under age 13 should always be kept in the back seat, where they won’t suffer injury or death from the forceful inflation. And remember, airbags are only effective when used along with safety belts.
- Side-impact protection:
Many auto deaths occur due to side-impact collisions. So, newer vehicles are beginning to feature side guard beams and side padding to protect passengers from side impacts. Some vehicle manufacturers offer side airbags as well.
- Head restraints:
To prevent an individual’s head from snapping back in rear-end crashes, all new passenger vehicles feature head restraints. Rear-seat head restraints are also becoming more common. A head restraint should be high enough so that it rests directly behind the back of an individual’s head.
Some insurance companies offer discounted rates if your vehicle has some/all of these safety features. Be sure to ask them about discounts