Vehicle Safety

reduction in death and serious injury if all new cars had equivalent safety features as the safest car in its class.

Safety Features

Lane Departure Warnings

Electronic Stability Control

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.

International research shows that single vehicle crashes can be reduced by 35% in passenger vehicles and 67% in four wheel drive and sports utility vehicles fitted with ESC.

ESC is also known by different names by different manufacturers:

  • Electronic Stability Program (ESP) – Holden, Audi, Chrysler, Mercedes, Saab, Volkswagen
  • Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) – Ford, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover
  • Stability/Swerve Control (VSC) – Toyota, Lexus
  • Active Stability Control (ASC) – Mitsubishi
  • Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) – Volvo
  • Stability Assist (VSA) – Honda
  • Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) – Subaru, Nissan

 

Anti-lock Braking System

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.


 

Emergency Brake Assist

Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) 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.

The system will not reduce the stopping distance of the car, but it will make sure that the car is stopped in the shortest distance that it potentially could by compensating for any hesitancy in applying the brakes hard in an emergency situation.

Brake Assist is based on the ABS technology of a vehicle and will not be found on a vehicle without ABS. It should not change how drivers respond to an emergency – you should still brake as hard as possible.


 

Seat Belt Reminder System

A seat belt reminder system is a system alerting the driver by means of sound and visual indications when a seat belt should be worn. The target is to remind people that they have not fastened their belt. Some seat belt reminder systems won't allow a vehicle to start until the belt is connected.

Active Head Restraints

Head restraints limit the backward movement of the head during a rear-impact crash, reducing the chance of neck injury commonly referred to as whiplash. Head restraints meeting specific size and strength requirements are required at front seats, but not in rear seats. The newest type of head restraint is an active head restraint. During a rear-end crash, active head restraints automatically move forward to close the gap between the occupant’s head and the head restraint.

Side and Curtain Air Bags

Side and curtain airbags protect occupants in a side impact crash. Curtain airbags drop down from the top of the side window, creating a cushion between the occupant and the side of the car and typically protect the head and shoulders. Side airbags usually activate from the door panel, protecting the occupant’s torso.

Daytime Running Lights

Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) are bright headlights that are illuminated during the day in order to make vehicles more visible. DRLs have been shown to improve vehicle visibility and estimation of distance resulting in reduced crash rates. A Western Australian study showed vehicles with DRLs were more than 8 times safer than those without.

Car Colour

A study undertaken by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) investigating the relationship between vehicle colour and crash risk found that black, blue, grey, green, red and silver vehicles had a higher crash risk compared with white vehicles. Colours higher on the visibility index, such as white, are recommended to reduce crash risk.

Four Wheel Drives

Recent analyses have indicated that Four Wheel Drive (4WD) vehicles cause comparatively more harm than other passenger vehicles when in collision with other road users, and are relatively unstable vehicles, with a high risk of rollover.

In relation to crash risk overall, however, the primary risk estimates show that 4WD vehicles are generally safe vehicles, despite their higher rollover risk. However, in relation to young drivers there is an unusually high risk for 4WD occupants compared to other passenger vehicles.

Buying a New Car

When looking for a new car that’s right for you, a good place to start is with the ANCAP safety rating. Cars with 5-star ratings provide much better protection in a crash than those with a lower rating. Cars with higher ANCAP stars do not necessarily cost more. In fact, many reasonably priced makes and models score well in safety ratings and in some cases, better than some of the more expensive models.

In 2016, ANCAP published safety ratings for 45 new passenger, SUV and light comercial vehicles, which are contained in the brochure below.

The key safety features you should be looking for include:

Primary – Crash Avoidance

  • Autonomous braking system
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Anti-Lock Braking System

Secondary – Occupation Protection

  • Emergency Brake Assist
  • Seat belt reminder system
  • Head restraints
  • Side and curtain airbags
  • Daytime Running Lights (DRLs)

Buying a Used Car

When you’re in the market for a second hand car, safety shouldn’t take a back seat. There are two important factors you may not have thought about:

  • It is important that your vehicle offers you good protection from injury in a crash.
  • It is also important that your vehicle offers good protection to other road users, such as pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists or the drivers of other vehicles involved in a crash.

The Used Car Safety Ratings Guide provides ‘Safe Pick’ suggestions and information on the safety popular vehicles offer to both driver and other road users.

If you are buying a new or used vehicle in remote or regional Western Australia, please read the Consumer Guide to Safer Vehicles (PDF 7 pages 1.3 MB).