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Buyers' Guide: You can’t be too fussy on safety
ALWAYS LOOK FOR A VEHICLE WITH THAT ALL-IMPORTANT AIRBAG SIGN
I’ve been struggling with my health over the past couple of weeks after receiving mild concussion and a battered rib-cage caused by a cycle accident.
The cause of the accident wasn’t because of doing anything high-risk — the front wheel of my bike hit a rather solid obstacle on a concrete footpath which sent me flying over the handlebars and caused me to land on the hard concrete head first.
Thankfully I was wearing a crash helmet at the time which absorbed the impact and helped limit the damage. So what’s all this got to do with this week’s Buyers Guide column?
Well there are a number of similar comparisons. Number one is you never know when you may be involved in an accident, and second, head protection can be a lifesaver whether it be riding a bike or driving a car.
Accident avoidance is where the motor industry is heading with innovations such as blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control all coming on stream to either help avoid an accident or to reduce severe injury to occupants and other road users.
Multiple airbags and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) are now simply all part of the overall safety package of new-car ownership these days regardless of a vehicle’s size or cost. And over time those benefits will eventually filter down to more and more of the used-car fleet where new owners will automatically inherit a safer vehicle.
Side-curtain airbags are the ones that help protect occupants against head and neck injuries in the event of a side impact or if a vehicle were to come in contact with a solid object such as a pole or large tree.
Like a cyclist’s helmet, the head is cushioned when a side airbag is deployed.
No airbag fitted means the head and neck area take the full impact of a crash, which can in a worst case scenario result in death or severe and long-term injury. As mentioned, side curtain airbags have become pretty much the norm these days when purchasing a brand new motor car, but it hasn’t always been that way. In some cases a specific model range could differ in terms of varying specification levels, including its overall safety package.
And you can’t assume an older used import will always have the exact same safety specification levels as the identical or similar model that was sold new in New Zealand.
In some cases it may in fact be better equipped, while in other cases it may be lacking safety features such as ESC, side-curtain airbags or lap and diagonal seatbelts in every seating position.
So always look for a vehicle with that all important AIRBAG sign stamped into the A pillar or roof-line trim to confirm the fitment of side-curtain airbags. They may be out of financial reach for some used-car buyers at present, but for others it may be worth stretching the budget.
Ongoing trauma from head injuries can be a life-changing experience for both the injured person and their family, not to mention the cost of rehabilitation. And, based on my own experience, accidents are never planned so it’s best to be prepared as best you possibly can.