Can, meet worms.
We're currently shopping for a new car due to impending baby number four, so I guess it's a good time to address vehicle safety. The thing is, there are SO many facets to vehicle safety that it can be really difficult to boil it down to a straightforward “look for this, not that” kind of list. However, after going through the auto-buying experience quite a bit as our family has grown, we're pretty familiar with the marketplace. Overwhelmed friends often ask for help guiding their choices, so it's clear that there is a lot of concern about vehicle safety. Here are the most important vehicle safety features to look for when securing your family.
Vehicle Safety Stuff You Should be Concerned About
Ask dealers about manufacturer vehicle safety programs and how they will keep your loved ones safe. Some offer great roadside assistance, some have truly advanced airbag systems, some have special technology to help you stay in your own lane. A history of recalls is something to consider as well.
Learn about child safety features and laws. I was pretty surprised to discover that one of the cars we drive regularly doesn't have car seat latches. It's not something I'd even considered before buying the car, as I thought features like that were standard nowadays. I also didn't know that vehicles in the United States don't generally come with a front seat passenger air bag switch, meaning that it's a HUGE hazard to put a child up front without a special component installed after-market. I had assumed this was standard, as it is in most European countries. Here, our laws and our vehicles and car seats are completely different. Take time to think through every single space that could potentially be occupied by a child, and assess your personal vehicle needs before purchasing.
Bells and whistles may be more. Nate once laughed at this assertion, but I truly consider backseat TVs to be an important vehicle safety feature for families. Mom can't drive safely if toys are being chucked at her head and there's a meltdown going on in the backseat! If you ever attempt an extended road trip with a preschooler and toddler, there's a good chance you'll agree with me.
Consider your personal limitations. I, for one, am horrible at backing up. I don't know if it's a depth-perception thing or just a general lack of talent, but I've bumped more cars and walls in reverse than I care to admit. Thank God for good insurance. This is why I now make it a priority to look for features like rear park assist when I'm considering vehicle safety. We paid the big bucks that upgrade with our last vehicle, and it's been well worth the investment.
Have you had any vehicle safety surprises when shopping for a new car?