Choosing a Safe Family Car

For many, the highest priority in purchasing a vehicle is safety. We tell you which features will help your family stay safe on the road.

Choosing a Safe Family Car sirtravelalot/Shutterstock
The highest priority in purchasing a family car is safety—choosing a car that has well-engineered airbags and seat belts/head restraints and good ratings in crashworthiness tests. Handling, strong braking, performance and stability control allow a car to transport its passengers safely. But there's a lot more you can look for in a vehicle to help your family stay safe on the road.

Electronic Stability Control (aka as Dynamic Stability Control, Vehicle Stability Control, etc.) is a computerized technology that improves a vehicle’s stability by sensing its loss of traction.  It momentarily brakes one or more wheels depending on the system in order to avoid skids or slides, in order to keep the vehicle in an intended direction.

Proper Tire Inflation is vital to well-controlled avoidance maneuvers. Check inflation as often as once a month. Since tires affect the vehicle’s overall handling, ride, braking, they must have the proper air pressure, tread depth, balance, and alignment.  Tire pressure checks should be done monthly and if motorists drive over rough terrain, live in cold climates or drive long distances, for safety’s sake, they should check their tires more often.

Rearview Cameras make it safer to back up a sedan, minivan, or SUV that has poor rearward visibility. (All passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. are now required to have backup cameras.)       

Side-Curtain Airbags protect/cushion usually the front and rear seats during a side impact or rollover, though they can also protect third-row passengers in some larger vehicles during a side impact or rollover.  

Lane-Departure Warning (LDW) alerts the driver if they drift their vehicle out of its lane. LDW was created to warn a driver by chimes or vibration to take corrective action immediately which can prevent collisions and run-off-road accidents. Lane-Keeping Assist takes action by gently steering a motorist back into their lane if they deviate from it.

ABS Antilock Brakes ABS is a computer-controlled system that prevents brakes from locking up and tires from skidding when braking forcefully; it allows the driver to retain steering control while braking. 

OnStar is an in-vehicle telematic safety service that vehicle owners can layer on, with features including Automatic Crash Response, Emergency Services, Roadside Assistance and Stolen Vehicle Assistance and Turn-by-Turn Navigation.