What is a safe family car? 5 tips on how to look for one

You buy a car for different reasons depending on a wide range of life factors. If work is first and foremost in your life, perhaps you look for a car that will be comfortable for those long, boring daily commutes, or a truck that is up to hauling heavy loads to and from construction sites. If performance is your thing a breakneck 0-60 acceleration and sexy body shape will be your primary focus. But for those of us who spend far more time carpooling between soccer practices and dance recitals than rolling up to the valet line at a red carpet event, safety is probably tops on the list. You want a car that will protect the thing you love most, your family, from all of those various dangers of the road. Thanks to technology, the car you choose can now truly mean the difference between a devastating accident and a near miss. And thanks to the internet, you now have the ability to shop around, read thousands of rankings and reviews and understand each vehicle choice inside and out before you ever step onto a car lot. So do as much research as you need in order to feel comfortable with your choice, and keep in mind these five things to look for in a safe family car.

Although you could probably put these factors in any order, a good place to start is with the vehicle’s construction. Modern day cars are far more than just simple steel boxes. Every new model is put through hundreds of hours of crash tests before it ever reaches mass production, and one of the reasons is to test out each vehicle’s crumple zones. Basically, engineers have figured out how to channel the forces created during a car accident into certain areas and away from the car passengers. So look for vehicles that have been rated the highest in crumple zone design. You’ll have the best chance of keeping your family safe in an accident, no matter how severe it might be.

Another important safety feature is the seat belt. When you were growing up the seat belt was optional, and most of our parents regularly went without. These days seat belts are mandatory in almost every state, and auto manufacturers are using technology to improve their effectiveness. Look for cars with smart tension seat belt technology. Basically, sensors placed on the exterior of the vehicle register an impact and tighten the belts properly before it happens. This will reduce whiplash and help avoid injuries.

Airbag placement should also top your list of safety features. Most cars come with airbags these days, but if they aren’t used properly they can actually hurt people. Make sure you choose a model with airbags that deploy in stages, so they don’t hit with as much impact. And ask about the chemicals they use to expand, to make sure they won’t burn if they impact someone’s skin.

You should also consider the braking system, and the more advanced it is the better. Many of the modern systems will be able to read the spin of the wheels and recognize if you are losing control. They will actually automatically cut down on the throttle and brake, meaning the car could save you before an accident happens. It’s an incredible breakthrough, and a must-have for the safest family cars.

Finally, consider the latest high-tech sensor additions. The price may throw you for a loop, especially if you’ve been looking over a used Nissan Qashqai. But sensors around the vehicle can warn you if you are getting too close to the car in front of you, and let out a short siren if you are wandering out of your lane. There are always distractions, especially if you have a car full of kids, and knowing the vehicle itself is looking out for your safety can deliver huge peace of mind. That’s well worth the higher price tag.


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