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Essential Safety Features to Check When Buying a Car

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What do with your car that requires major repairs?

While cars offer mobility and convenience, deciding to own one poses challenges due to its high cost and long-term commitment. Apart from that, you are also at risk when driving. 

 

This is why it is essential to consider the safety features needed when purchasing a vehicle, such as airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, seatbelts, and tire pressure monitoring systems.

 

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Read on to learn more about the essential safety features when buying a car.

 

Do Safety Features Really Avoid the Risks of Accidents?

 

Vehicle safety features are developed to lessen accidents’ likelihood and associated consequences. 

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According to Corey Harper, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, car crashes may be reduced by up to 3.5% if a vehicle is equipped with a combination of vehicle crash avoidance technologies. Moreover, a study titled Effects of blind spot monitoring systems on police-reported lane-change crashes reported that cars with blind spot monitoring from 2009 to 2015 had a 14% lower crash involvement rate than comparable models without the system.

 

While safety features are crucial in improving overall road safety and can significantly enhance a driver’s ability to avoid accidents, motorists still bear significant responsibility for the occurrence of these crashes.

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Using safe driving techniques, acting responsibly, and paying attention while driving are equally critical. Instead of replacing safe driving practices, drivers should see safety features as tools that enhance their driving abilities.

 

What Are the Safe Driving Practices?

 

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It is necessary to drive safely to protect you, your passengers, and other road users. The following are some essential safe driving techniques to follow to guarantee your safety:

  • Adhere to traffic laws: Always abide by the rules of the road, including any posted speed limits, stop signs, and traffic signals. Make sure you know the specific driving rules that apply in your state.
  • Buckle up: Always wear your seatbelt, and ensure everyone else in the car is fastened safely. Seatbelt use is required by law for all passengers in the United States.
  • Use turn signals: When changing lanes or making turns, always use your turn signals to convey your intention to move. 
  • Maintain a safe following distance: Keep a safe space behind the car in front of you. Increase your following distance during bad weather.
  • Yield the right-of-way: Recognize and abide by the right-of-way laws when merging onto highways, intersections, and crosswalks.
  • Watch out for pedestrians and cyclists: Especially in major cities, pay attention to pedestrians and cyclists. 
  • Stay alert: Never go behind the wheel if you’re tired or sleepy. Before setting out on a lengthy journey, get enough sleep.
  • Plan ahead: Before you travel, map out your itinerary and consider utilizing GPS or navigation software to keep you on course. You must also check the weather forecast before going on a trip to ensure safety.

 

Note that safe driving includes not only abiding by the law but also exercising sound judgment and showing consideration for other road users. Driving safely reduces the chance of accidents and improves overall road safety.

 

Do I Need Insurance When Buying a Car?

 

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While the safety essentials mentioned are made to reduce the risks of accidents, you may still be involved in car crashes due to someone else’s negligence. Insurance must cover compensation for economic and non-economic damages after an accident. 

 

In almost all states, having insurance is legally mandatory. This ensures that victims of car accidents can receive compensation for the damages incurred. 

 

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In addition, you may also have additional auto insurance that will help you cover expenses in complicated accident cases, such as hit-and-run car crashes. 

 

What Are the Safety Essentials When Buying a New Car?

 

All vehicles have standard safety features that help reduce the chances of getting into a car accident. Here are the following safety essentials to check before buying a car:

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Airbags 

 

An airbag is a car’s most common safety component and has been a standard since 1998. An inflatable cushion integrated into a vehicle protects drivers and front passengers from hitting the interior or objects outside the car. 

 

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Innovative airbags can detect the driver’s and front passenger’s weight and position. With this feature, it is easier to reduce the risk of having injuries when involved in a car crash. It was also discovered that front airbags decrease the number of driver fatalities in frontal car crashes by 29%. 

 

To check if an airbag is fully functioning:

  • Turn the ignition key to the first position (lock position). 
  • Check the airbag indicator light on the dashboard.
  • The airbag indicator light should flash on momentarily and go out if it works fine.
  • If the light stays on or flashes continuously, the airbag system is not functioning well.

 

Anti-lock brakes (ABS)

When a driver puts too much pressure on the brake, the wheels lock up, which disables the driver from controlling the vehicle. Anti-lock brakes are sensors placed on each wheel that allow maximum braking and the driver’s control to steer simultaneously. It became a safety standard in the 1990s, so new cars usually have these. 

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To check if you have operational anti-lock brakes:

  • Put the car ignition in the lock position, and then check the instrument panel. The ABS light should turn on and then go off after performing a self-check.
  • Test drive the car at a slow speed. Lightly tap on the brake pedal. If the ABS light comes on after you do this, there is a problem with the vehicle solenoid, a component responsible for starting your car. You may also feel pressure on the brake pedal when lightly taping it to stop the vehicle.
  • During the test drive, check the panel. If the ABS light stays on while moving, the ABS is not working well. 

 

Electronic Stability Control 

 

Electronic Stability Control is a sensor made to help the vehicle avoid slipping or skidding. This is a vital safety feature for taller vehicles, such as SUVs and trucks, which have a higher tendency to roll over. 

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To indicate if you have a malfunctioning electronic stability control:

  • When the ESC light on the panel stays on, the car is not under control.
  • If the ESC light illuminates for an extended period, your ESC might need to be fixed. 
  • An ESC light that stays on for a long time can also indicate that it is manually deactivated.

 

Three-Point Seat Belt

 

In 1968, the United States Federal Law mandated the use of a three-point seatbelt as a car feature to ensure occupants’ safety. This type of seat belt runs over the lap, through the shoulder, and the chest of a passenger. This helps keep occupants entirely in place in case of emergencies. This is usually present in the driver’s and front passenger’s seats. 

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To use a seat belt properly, you must follow the steps below:

  • Ensure the lap and shoulder belts are secured across the pelvis and rib cage.
  • Lock the shoulder belt across the middle of your chest and away from your neck.
  • The lap belt should be located across your hips, not your stomach.
  • Do not put the shoulder belt behind your back or under an arm.

 

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

 

Your tires are most vulnerable to damage on the road. A tire pressure monitoring system is a safety essential designed to measure the pressure in your tires and ensure that they are fully inflated. 

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To determine if your tires are correctly inflated and your TPMS is working fine, you must:

  • Use a tire gauge to check the air in your tires before driving.
  • If the tire pressure monitoring system turns on for a consistent amount of time, this indicates that one of your tires is deflated. 

 

What Happens If I Discover a Safety Defect with My New Car?

 

Finding a safety issue with your new car is an urgent matter that must be handled immediately to protect you and other road users. If you discover a safety defect in the design or production of your new vehicle, the manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration may initiate a recall. 

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If you notice a safety defect in your newly bought vehicle, you may do the following to ensure that you will have the replacement or repairs you deserve:

  • Document the safety issue.
  • Check if there are recalls similar to your car. You may visit the NHTSA website to check the recalls. You’ll also need your vehicle’s identification number when doing so.
  • Contact the manufacturer’s customer service department or the dealership where you purchased the vehicle and inform them of the defect.
  • Keep any records related to the issue, such as your interactions with the manufacturer, including the dates, names of those you communicated with, and any case or reference numbers you may have been given. 
  • You can also notify the vehicle regulatory agency of the safety issue if you think the manufacturer needs to address it more effectively.
  • Seek legal assistance if necessary. 

 

Individuals who own vehicles subject to recalls can take their cars to authorized dealerships for complimentary repair or replacement of faulty components.

 

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Most dealerships immediately fix safety issues. However, this is not always the case. Contact the manufacturer or the NHTSA if a dealership or mechanic refuses to do the repairs. 

 

What Happens If I Get Involved In A Car Accident?

 

Regardless of how careful you are on the road, you may get into a car accident due to other people’s negligence. If ever you catch yourself in an unfortunate car crash, follow the steps below to respond accordingly:

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  • Slowly stop your car.
  • Move your car out to a safe location if you can move freely.
  • Check if you or anyone else in the crash has injuries.
  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Take note of the license plate and VIN of the other vehicle.
  • Document possible evidence, such as contact information and witness testimony.
  • Take photos of your vehicle, the accident scene, and other involved cars.
  • File an accident report.
  • Exchange auto insurance information after the incident.
  • Seek the assistance of a car accident damage lawyer immediately.

 

What Do I Do If I’m Involved in a Car Accident Due to Safety Defects? 

 

While car safety features are designed to protect us from danger, ironically, they can sometimes cause auto crashes. If you get into a car accident due to safety defects, you may file a personal injury claim against the car manufacturer. 

 

A personal injury claim can be pursued if another party’s negligence caused an accident resulting in injuries or other damages. This process should help you claim monetary compensation for the damages. 

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In the event of a collision due to car safety defects, the car manufacturer should be held liable for the damages caused by the crash. This is because they negligently overlooked the flaws and produced the vehicle despite the mechanical issues, resulting in your accident.

 

However, before claiming compensation, you must have sufficient evidence to prove the other party’s negligent actions that caused the auto crash. A good lawyer for a car accident can help you gather evidence, justify the manufacturer’s liability, and fight for a fair settlement.

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Works Cited

“Cal. Ins. Code § 11580.1.” Case Text, 30 August 2022,

 

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https://casetext.com/statute/california-codes/california-insurance-code/division-2-classes-of-insurance/part-3-liability-workers-compensation-and-common-carrier-liability-insurance/chapter-1-general-regulations/article-2-actions-on-policies-containing-liab. Accessed 28 September 2023.

 

“Airbags.” IIHS, https://www.iihs.org/topics/airbags. Accessed 28 September 2023.

“Auto Insurance Requirements – California DMV.” California DMV, https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/vehicle-registration/insurance-requirements/. Accessed 28 September 2023.

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“Effects of blind spot monitoring systems on police-reported lane-change crashes.” IIHS, https://www.iihs.org/topics/bibliography/ref/2143. Accessed 28 September 2023.

“Evaluation Program Plan.” CrashStats – NHTSA, https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812069.pdf. Accessed 28 September 2023.

“How to tell if your vehicle airbags work.” The Independent Uganda, 25 April 2019, https://www.independent.co.ug/how-to-tell-if-your-vehicle-airbags-work/. Accessed 28 September 2023.

“How to Test ABS Brakes | It Still Runs.” ItStillRuns, https://itstillruns.com/test-abs-brakes-7438980.html. Accessed 28 September 2023.

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“Net-societal and net-private benefits of some existing vehicle crash avoidance technologies.” sciencedirect, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0001457518307462.

“Seat Belt Laws | US Department of Transportation.” Department of Transportation, https://www.transportation.gov/mission/health/seat-belt-laws. Accessed 28 September 2023.

“Seat Belt Safety: Buckle Up America.” NHTSA, https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/seat-belts. Accessed 28 September 2023.

“What is TPMS? [Infographic].” Nationwide Blog, 7 April 2017, https://blog.nationwide.com/vehicle/vehicle-technology-trends/what-is-tpms/. Accessed 28 September 2023.

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