The Car Book Blog: Buying for Safety


The Center for Auto Safety is the nation’s premier independent, member driven, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

With the release of the 39th edition of The Car Booknow available online—we’re sharing some of our best tips for car buying and maintaining your vehicle after you buy. The Car Book 2019 provides today’s car buyer with in-depth ratings of the 2019 vehicles, The Car Book’s unique crash test ratings, comparative complaint ratings, and all of the information needed to make a smart, safe and informed vehicle purchase. For online users only, the site also includes over 1,000 used car ratings going back five years.
In this edition of The Car Book Blog, we’ll give you key advice on how to buy for safety. If you’re more interested in the safety of yourself and your family than moon roofs or cupholders, this post is for you.

So, how do you buy for safety?
Many consumers mistakenly believe that handling and performance are the key elements in the safety of a car. While an extremely unresponsive car could cause an accident, most new cars have adequately safe handling. In fact, many people actually feel uncomfortable driving high performance cars because the highly responsive steering, acceleration, and suspension systems can be difficult to get used to. But the main reason handling is overrated as a safety measure is that automobile collisions are, by nature, accidents. Once they’ve begun, they are beyond human capacity to prevent, no matter how well your car handles. So, the key to protecting yourself is to purchase a car that offers a high degree of crash protection and automatic crash avoidance features. When it comes to crash protection, here’s a general list of what you should look for:

  • Dynamic Head Restraints: They adjust to give better protection in an accident.
  • Air Belts: Belts that blow up like long, soft balloons in a crash. Just being introduced in rear seats on some Ford vehicles.
  • Lane Keeping Assist: Keeps you within the white lines.
  • Automatic Braking: Applies the brakes faster than you can.
  • Blind Spot Detection: Keeps you from hitting another vehicle that you may not see.
  • Rear View Camera: Keeps children behind your car safe and helps with parking.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control: Adjusts your speed based on surrounding highway traffic.
  • Roll Sensing Airbags: Offer extra protection in a rollover–standard in many new cars.
  • Bicycle Detection: Alerts you when a bicycle has been detected.
  • Left Turn Crash Avoidance: Prevents a crash if turning left into the path of another car.
  • Adaptive Headlights: Increases vision by turning headlights when steering wheel turns.

If you haven’t already, be sure to join the Center for Auto Safety to get a full year’s access to or get your paper copy of The Car Book 2019. Come back to The Car Book Blog soon for even more insightful car buying information.

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