Selecting a vehicle
Assessing vehicle safety
The Australian New Car Assessment Program assigns safety ratings to cars. Cars can have a rating from one to five and organisations may specify in their motor vehicle policies a minimum Australasian New Car Assessment Program crash test rating for the purchase of new vehicles.
Safety features to consider when selecting a vehicle include:
- Front and side air bags.
- Anti-lock Braking System - prevents wheel lockup and skidding in emergency braking.
- Electronic Stability Programme – automated system used to help correct oversteer, understeer and loss of stability in a vehicle by applying the brakes to one or more of the wheels and adjusting engine power. The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries provides a list of vehicles in Australia fitted with Electronic Stability Program
- Daytime running lights - activate when vehicle is switched on and have been shown to reduce daytime crashes.
- Over-speed warning devices.
- Lap sash seat belts - provide the most important protection from serious injury in an accident.
- Cargo barrier - can prevent light objects becoming deadly missiles in station wagons.
- Air conditioning - can improve comfort and reduce fatigue for long trips.
- Automatic transmission - can decrease fatigue by reducing gear changing in urban or hilly conditions and allowing more attention to other driving tasks.
- Headrests - minimise neck injury from rear impact; should be at least as high as eye level and as close to the back of the head as possible.
- Seat height adjustment - allows the driver to gain the best possible field of vision, safe and easy access to vehicle controls and can improve driver comfort.
- Steering wheel adjustment - allows for more control of the wheel, access to controls and contributes to driver comfort.
- Power steering - enables better control of vehicle when parking and making sharp turns.
- Mirrors - electronically controlled mirrors allow for easier re-adjustment for individual driver needs.
- Mudflaps - reduce loss of visibility to vehicles behind by reducing spray in wet conditions.
- Bull bars - must be compatible with the airbag fitted to the vehicle and may reduce the effectiveness of the front crumple zone.
- Fire extinguishers and other heavy objects - should be securely fastened to prevent them becoming dangerous projectiles in a crash.
Adapted from Statefleet: Vehicle safety and VicRoads: How to buy a safe car
Regular maintenance and servicing is crucial for ensuring vehicle safety. The following guides provide information on creating a safe environment for vehicle maintenance tasks performed by a vehicle owner or operator:
Supported by the Community Sector Investment Fund (external link - opens in a new window).