document : Safety Key in First Cars

Safety Key in First Cars
information supplied by: Bridgestone South Africa 29 October 2012

Tyre maker Bridgestone has commented that parents should consider safety as their top priority when buying a first car for their children.

“Even though there has been a very slight reduction in South Africa's road death toll over the past year or two, our roads remain extremely dangerous,” said Bridgestone PR Manager, Mandy Lovell. “The young 18 to 24 year-old age group also remains the most fatality-prone group of drivers,” she added.

Parents who were considering buying a first car for children of university age should give priority to two aspects: features which were likely to prevent crashes, followed by features which would protect occupants in the event of a crash.

Since crash tests are only conducted at 64 km/h for frontal tests, crashworthiness is not assured in crashes at higher speeds. It is recommended that parents favour vehicles which are equipped with ABS brakes and Electronic Stability Control which help drivers retain control of their vehicles and can prevent a crash happening altogether. Research conducted in Europe shows that Stability Control can reduce crashes by up to 30%, an important factor for younger drivers who tend to make more driving errors which could lead to crashes.

Not all crashes can be prevented, and once parents have found a vehicle equipped with suitable levels of driver assistance, their attention should turn to crash protection. The easiest way to determine safety levels of modern cars is to consult the database of crash tests at, as models tested in Europe are often similar or identical to those sold in South Africa. Research has shown that the more EuroNCAP stars a vehicle has, the better it performs in real-world crashes outside the laboratory. Vehicles with a five-star rating are the safest, and parents should opt for a vehicle with as many stars as their budget allows. In recognition of the role of driver assistance, standard fitment of Stability Control also counts towards a vehicle's EuroNCAP star rating.

“It's an unfortunate fact that younger drivers are the most error-prone and vulnerable drivers,” said Lovell. “Parents should ensure their children's first cars are ones which are most likely to protect them from their mistakes,” she concluded.
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