First Gear English edition, Safety In Your Car (Chapter 06)


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Everything you need to know about your first car.

Welcome to the wonderful world of wheels!
We know that every single person dreams of owning a car. It’s understandable: a car epitomises independence. Success. Stature. Mobility. The freedom to go your own way. But we also know that the decision to purchase a car can be fraught with challenges. What car do you buy? What can you afford? What about the servicing requirements? What safety features should you look out for? What about safety out on the road? These and many other important questions plague your mind. First Gear aims to address all these topics and many other essential issues associated with car ownership. We have canvassed the opinions of the world’s leading authorities and this book aims to give you independent, authoritative and utterly essential advice. We want to take the mystery and malaise out of car ownership, and replace it with easy to follow advice and tips… so that your road to car ownership isn’t filled with potholes! We trust that it will provide you with a stress-free introduction to the world of wheels.

Enjoy your first car; you’ve worked hard for it!

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First Gear English edition, Safety In Your Car (Chapter 06)

  1. 1. CHAPTER 6: Safety In Your Car So here’s the thing, guys a new (or pre-l nd gals: whe oved) set of n you buy a important th wheels, the ing is not ho single-most sounds. Yes w good the c , a hot colou ar looks or And what’s b r and flash in eneath the h terior are cru never forget: ood is also im cial. it’s the safety portant. But the differenc features tha e between lif t could mea e and death n . Today’s cars come with a bunch of sci-fi technology manager, Ford Asia Pacific stuff, with all sorts of weird acronyms. and Africa, points out: “Beyond the And so we’re often clueless as to what vehicle’s structure and design, there are they mean. ABS, EBD and ESP...? Go an increasing number of safety features figure… available which at either an individual But these weird and wonderful or combined level of offering serve in contraptions all play a vital role, as Jamie contributing towards enhancing a McCullough, cross carline feature and vehicle’s ‘accident avoidance’ and/or44  First Gear First Gear  45
  2. 2. Zen and the art of crash testing New cars must pass certain safety and pole test. Separate pedestrian tests before being sold. Most have a tests will score the pedestrian rating. Euro NCAP safety rating (European Euro NCAP also rewards cars with New Car Assessment Rating). Or, if it’s intelligent seatbelt reminders. Australian, an ANCAP (Australian Since 2009, Euro NCAP has released New Car Assessment Program) rating. only one overall star rating for each For cars tested before 2009, Euro car, with a maximum of five stars. This NCAP has three ratings: adult protec- comprises the scores in adult, child tion, child occupant and pedestrian and pedestrian protection, and safety protection. These ratings are achieved assist. The tests are identical to pre- from three impact tests: frontal, side 2009 ones, with the addition of a test talities which fa reduced 50 a g e by Percent s c a n be us injurie age. and serio us seatbelt t hanks to ‘occupant protection’ performance. Wise Jill, who’s often sharper than for whiplash neck injury protection in ous/fatal injuries for buckled-in adult Ford is a safety leader; you can see it in Jack’s buddies realise, asks how safe rear impact. Also, Euro NCAP rewards occupants. The 64 km/h test speed our innovations that help customers it is. not only seatbelt reminders, but also represents a car-to-car collision with avoid crashes or protect them if one is “Well, it’s got seatbelts,” the speed limiters and standard fitment each car doing about 55 km/h. unavoidable.” salesman announces proudly. That is a of ESC. Steering wheel-mounted airbags are And so, it’s important to buy a car good thing: according to the National So how do they do crash tests? The quite critical, and Euro NCAP encour- that has as many of these features as Highway Transportation Safety frontal impact test takes place at 64 ages seatbelt pretensioners, load lim- possible… not that all young drivers Administration (NHTSA), seatbelts km/h, and readings taken from the iters and dual stage airbags. remember to prioritise. Picture Jack in reduce the risk of fatality and serious test dummies assess the protection So essentially, the more stars out of the showroom, or used car lot, inspect- injury by 50 percent when used by given to adult front occupants. Con- five your car has, the better. Drive a ing the gleaming array of fine machin- drivers and front-seat passengers. tact between the occupant and superstar and your chances of surviv- ery. And there’s the salesman trying “Seat belts are your first line of defence intruding parts of the passenger com- ing the roads are better. to sell him that cool hotrod, which is against injuries or death,” declares partment is the main cause of seri- chromed to the hilt and emits a fire- David L. Strickland, administrator, breathing roar when you step on the gas. NHTSA. 46  First Gear  First Gear  47
  3. 3. But, of course, seatbelts are a given relief, “Honest” Bob (as he’s known) lists today. The salesman shouldn’t be so the car’s safety features. proud. It’s actually an old car: truth be There’s ABS, he says, or an anti-lock told, it’s a bone-rattler of note. braking system. This helps prevent the Jill shakes her head. Uh-uh. She prods wheels from locking during sudden Jack in the ribs, and points to a newer, braking, like when you slam on anchors bigger, but infinitely less flashy vehicle. when a driver in front of you stops How about that one, she asks. And with unexpectedly. By allowing the car to slow in a more controlled manner, ABS helps maintain steering control. Some ABS systems include brake assist, which senses emergency braking by detectingStrapped for cash? the speed or force at which you press the brake, boosting the power asHere are the most needed. Under certain conditions, brakeimportant safety features assist can reach the braking force needed to activate the ABS faster, andin any car: help reduce stopping distance by• Seat belts: With all of the technological eliminating the delay caused by not advances, seat belts are still the top life-sav- braking hard/soon enough. ing device in cars today He says the car also has ESP, or an• Anti-lock braking system (ABS): it pre- Electronic Stability Programme, which vents the wheels from locking during braking; means drivers are better able to control you have far more control over your vehicle as a result the car in intense steering manoeuvres. Times to take extra care Venture out onto the road and you’re taking• Electronic Stability Programme (ESP): your life into your own hands: we all know that. this is a very clever electronic system that But there are high-risk periods, when you really steps in if your vehicle is about to skid out of should be extra careful. According to the control; it takes over by selectively applying Automobile Association of South Africa, this the brakes and helps prevent things from is when accidents are statistically the most going pear-shaped likely to occur:• Crumple zones: this is a structural feature of your car; it compresses during an accident, thereby absorbing the energy and minimising • Between dusk and dawn the impact of the accident on people sitting • During morning and evening peak traffic in the car • At “closing time” for bars and clubs• Airbags: these are, quite literally, bags of air • Late in the week and at weekends when that inflate in milli-seconds if you have an the use of alcohol increases accident; they help prevent you from knock- ing your head on the dash, for instance • On public holidays and weekends when many motorists are paying more attention to• A well trained driver: you can never ever sightseeing than to proper driving have too much training; it needs to be cou- pled with the right attitude out on the road48  First Gear First Gear  49
  4. 4. ESP helps prevent a car from spinning There’s also a host of airbags that out by constantly monitoring and help protect you in the event of an applying braking force to one or more accident. Depending on the impact wheels as needed. speed and the stiffness of the object It has crumple zones. This means that, struck, front airbags inflate to help in the event of an accident, the car’s reduce the risk of occupants hitting the body parts are designed to absorb the dashboard, steering wheel and energy from a crash’s impact. As a windshield. Side airbags reduce the risk result, the passenger compartment is of you hitting the door or objects not as badly damaged, which means the crashing through it. Some cars have driver and passengers are less likely to head airbags, which deploy in side be injured. impacts, while some deploy during It also boasts a high amount of ultra rollovers. Both provide additional high strength boron steel in its door protection to help reduce head injuries. intrusion beams, which helps protect Then there’s AWD, or all-wheel-drive, occupants in side-impact collisions. which distributes power to both the Boron steel is very good news for road front and rear wheels to maximise safety – because it delivers a rigid, yet traction. This means that you’re less lightweight passenger cell, providing likely to go barrelling off the road. greater side and frontal impact Jack and Jill decide it’s a no-brainer. protection. “I read an article about this The cool hotrod is rejected in favour of steel,” Jill tells Jack proudly. “The use of the far more sensible vehicle. Honest these high-strength steels has helped Bob has done it again: Jack and Jill are Ford perform extremely well in crash sold. So’s the safety conscious car! tests, earning its vehicles more U.S. government five-star safety ratings than any other brand!” 50  First Gear   First Gear  51