Road Safety News

Drivers want clarity when it comes to safety features

Monday 25th July 2016

More than three quarters of UK drivers want the motor industry to be more proactive when it comes to highlighting vehicle safety features - but few currently prioritise safety in the buying process.

In a study of 2,000 motorists carried out by Co-op Insurance, 77% of respondents believed safety ratings should be more clearly highlighted when buying a new or used car.

However, despite 79% describing car safety as ‘very important’ in the buying process, just 4% currently see safety as the most important factor. And 71% don’t place safety in their top five buying criteria - with price, value for money and car brand taking precedence.

According to separate research carried out by Co-op Insurance with Thatcham Research, ‘a deluge of jargon, acronyms and a lack of quality information’ holds back more than half of drivers (54%) from asking any questions about safety when purchasing a car.

77% are left confused by AEB systems, 73% by ESC (stability control) and 71% by mid-speed collision mitigation systems (collision warning alarm).

Thatcham Research says there are three key safety questions to consider.

Matthew Avery, Thatcham’s director of research, said: “There is a good choice of new and used cars that have excellent safety features to choose from.   

“The key safety questions to consider when purchasing a used car are:  firstly what Euro NCAP rating does it have - five stars are what you should be looking for; does it have AEB fitted? And thirdly, what other safety technology options, often found in safety packs, are available?”

James Hillon, director of products at Co-op Insurance, said: “Our research has found that price dominates the buying decision and safety just isn’t front of mind when consumers shop for a used car.

“We are keen to help educate people not only about car safety, but about what they should be thinking about before they even set foot on a car forecourt.

“By knowing more about the safety options that are available, we hope that this will lead to more informed buying decisions and, hopefully, safer choices leading to safer roads.”



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"Two things come to mind; one is why are we allowing the selling of 2nd class tyres,remoulds etc?"

Remoulds are produced to the same standards as new tyres. Far more governmentally friendly to re-use a carcass too. Tyres, like any other aspect of a vehicle are manufactured to perform well under certain circumstances. Want good fuel economy? A hard tyre with low rolling resistance. Want to corner at 60? Then soft, grippy and short-lifespan is the way to go.

"Ones that increase the risk of skidding and end up with greater braking distances"

Tyres do not increase skid risk. When skidding the driver has already exceeded the capabilities. Driving to avoid skids is the answer.

"The second is poor road maintenance/ manufacture and more importantly a skid risk tarmac that is a compromise between ability to stop or assist in the control of a vehicle when necessary and costings. It seems that cheaper wins most of the time. We end up making a rod for our own backs."

Of course, we can all pay a chunk more in local and national taxes for better road surfaces, but then do we want high grip, or less noise and tyre wear? Let's face it, no matter the reason, nobody ever voted for higher taxes.
Steve, Watford

Agree (2) | Disagree (1)

All this is about improving the safety of vehicles on the road but says nothing about the driver or others. I believe that we would all support something which we consider would be of value in making the roads safer and denigrate that which appears to be a waste of time effort, value and monies but most of all of little or no value in making our roads safer. We can add as many things as one wants including better stronger and more consistant braking ability which I believe some manufacturers should do before going for automatic parking controls.

Two things come to mind; one is why are we allowing the selling of 2nd class tyres,remoulds etc? Ones that increase the risk of skidding and end up with greater braking distances The second is poor road maintenance/ manufacture and more importantly a skid risk tarmac that is a compromise between ability to stop or assist in the control of a vehicle when necessary and costings. It seems that cheaper wins most of the time. We end up making a rod for our own backs.
R.Craven Blackpool

Agree (2) | Disagree (1)

You've raised an interesting point Bob. If standard family saloons were fitted with the large discs and pads as fitted to a Porsche say, giving better stopping power, would they be involved in fewer collisions I wonder or, as someone suggested, would some drivers just drive faster and closer knowing they've got that extra stopping power?

Several decades ago, I had a 300bhp car with drum brakes all round and a phenomenmally powerful servo - in the dry you could stop on the proverbial sixpence - in the wet it would barely stop at all, due to water getting in the drums! The moral is - get to know your car's brakes and always know how quickly you could bring it to a stop in any circumstance.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

Surely Hugh it has to be a bit of both. Having a vehicle with better braking capacity is to be admired and obviously recommended but as you say it's the mentality of the driver that should come into question. If only we had a wand we could do magic with it and cure all the ills of modern transport with one wave of it. Unfortunately it doesn't exist and so we have to plod along doing the best that we can in the hope that whatever we do will save lives or at least be meaningful.
R Craven. Blackpool

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I'm sure there have been drivers of Porsches, Mondeos and Land Rovers who have been involved in collisons because they were not able to stop in time. It's the drivers we need to be wary of, not the cars they may be driving, although no doubt certain types of vehicles do attract certain types of drivers.

I have a standard production car with normal brakes and a pedestrian need not fear stepping out in front of me. Generally, as a useful road safety tip, try not to step out in front of anything that's moving. You heard it here first.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (7) | Disagree (2)

Hugh, would you accept the fact that a Porsche can stop better and faster ie in less time than a Land Rover or Ford Mondeo. It was proved to be true on Top Gear a couple of years ago. The fact is that faster cars are designed to have better braking capacity as a result of their speed ability and design, unlike the standard production cars that merely do as wanted..... stop. So if you put yourself in front of a Porsche and a Land Rover, at whatever speed, the Porsche has the greater ability to stop and the the Land Rover would probably kill you.
R.Craven Blackpool

Agree (11) | Disagree (3)

I would want to see the results of some scientific trials before putting my faith into what Dave Finney is claiming about stepping out into the path of a fast car.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (8) | Disagree (1)

You may not have noticed, Hugh, that generally the faster a car goes, the quicker it does actually stop, and the greater the number of fail-safes built in. If you are going to walk out into the path of a car, let's hope it's a fast one!
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (8) | Disagree (4)

I fear too many customers are more likely to ask "how fast does it go?" rather than "how quick does it stop and are there any fail-safes built in?"
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (6)

This is a very interesting area. Many car buyers are not well informed when they enter a showroom and I fear that the commercial motivators for the salespeople take primacy in how the sales conversation goes. Given the death and injury toll, is it not time that salespeople have to abide by some basic rules around describing safety features. Doctors explain routine operations before you sign a consent form.
Pete, Liverpool

Agree (2) | Disagree (3)

Perhaps these extra safety features should really be called 'Discreet Driver Failure Back-up Systems'. As Charles said earlier, it might be better if their presence on the car was not actually advertised.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (4) | Disagree (5)

You are quite correct, it should read stability not speed. The error was in the original information provided to us but we did not pick this up. Thanks for pointing this out (now corrected in the story above).
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News

Agree (4) | Disagree (0)

You would have thought that car manufacturers would be proud to boast the safety features of their wonderful new models.

i-Size (R129) is the car seat regulation that affords maximum protection to children in cars. I’m told (by a major child seat manufacturer) that the new Volkswagen Passat is one of the first to comply with this regulation. Well done Volkswagen.

Now, I challenge you all to go to Volkswagen UK’s website and look at the pages for this car and see if you can spot any mention of i-Size…I can’t!
Martin, Suffolk

Agree (7) | Disagree (0)

ESC is not speed control, it's electronic STABILITY control.

ESC looks at the steering and decides if the vehicle is going in the direction the driver is requesting. If it is, ESC does nothing. If it's not, ESC will attempt to make the vehicle go in the requested direction by doing one, two or all of the following:
1) Apply brakes on any one or more wheels
2) Remove brakes on any one or more wheels
3) Reduce engine power

Given that loss of control is the biggest factor in fatal collisions (and usually within the speed limit), ESC has huge potential to save lives. There are collisions, however, that the driver would have avoided but for the ESC, and there's the risk-compensation Charles mentions. So does ESC actually save lives? There'll never be any good evidence until RCT scientific trials are run, and that's where the authorities could step up to the plate. Let's start that evidence-led approach.
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (12) | Disagree (3)

However, there is a dilemma. There is a school of thought (risk compensation or risk homeostasis) that suggests that many of the safety features available will only work if you don't know you've got them. If you know about them, you will take bigger risks and neutralise the benefits. Equally, if you know you haven't got the features, you will drive more carefully.

Consider the effect on a driver's choice of speed of having to drive with no seat belts and with a sharp metal spike pointing into their chests from the centre of the steering wheel and with no insurance. Now consider how their speed choice may vary if they are cocooned in a 5-star crash-proof tank of a car, lined with airbags, with ESC, ABS and AEB and insured up to the hilt.
Charles, England

Agree (16) | Disagree (6)

You can have all the safety features you want but if you have cheap rubber fitted, you are likely to be negating the benefit of those very same safety features.

One of the first things I look at when checking over a used car to buy is the tyres. I find it very sad to find high spec / high(ish) performance second hand cars fitted with cheap tyres.

Cheap rubber generally doesn’t grip as well, particularly under emergency conditions and/or in the wet. It is also an indicator of the previous owner’s attitude…

Good quality tyres and good brakes will always rank as primary safety features for me.
Pat, Wales

Agree (15) | Disagree (0)