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Family Car Safety Checklist

A family car safety checklist provides families with a nice list of features they can look for in the cars they buy to make sure they keep their kids safe every time they hit the road. Car accidents unfortunately are all too common, especially when driving on slick ice, costing billions of dollars in car insurance claims year after year. It is important to understand and be aware of the best and most important safety features that are available in cars so that you can find the safest car for your family. Create a family car safety checklist and you can protect your whole family and keep everyone safe.

Check Crash Test Ratings

Automobile crash test ratings are an important clue as to the safety performance of a car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [1] and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety [2] are well respected organizations that conduct extensive crash test ratings on new car models year after year. Find out how the vehicle you are considering performed in these tests and you’ll have an important piece of the safety puzzle. These organizations conduct different types of tests, such as side impact and frontal impact crashes, so you can get a lot of good information on different vehicles you might be interested in. High crash test scores are probably the most important safety information you can check into when looking into a new or used car for your family.

Airbags and Shutoff Switches

Front airbags are a great safety feature, and as time goes by and they receive more and more testing and design improvement they get even better. A great example is the airbag shutoff switch. Early on we couldn’t shut the passenger airbag off for children or small adults, but now many cars either come with switches or weight sensors that control the deployment of the airbag for the safety of the passenger. This is a huge upgrade in safety performance that really makes a difference for families. This feature is commonly found in pickup trucks and two seat sports cars in which smaller passengers may not have any choice but to ride in the front. Remember: never put a small child in the front seat with an active airbag.

Antilock Braking Systems (ABS)

ABS brakes generally speaking contribute to a family’s safety in the car by helping you maintain maximum steering control while braking, particularly during a panic brake. ABS brakes won’t necessarily shorten braking distance; in fact, in many cases they actually lengthen it. But they provide the driver with the ability to potentially brake hard and steer around a collision at the same time.

Child Friendly Seat Belts

Especially for families with smaller children, it is very important to choose a car that has the right kind of seat belts in back. You want to choose automatic locking retractor (ALR) or emergency locking retractor (ELR) seat belts, because they do a much better job of holding car seats tightly in place, and also hold older children more securely as well. Believe it or not, some new cars still feature old fashioned seat belt designs that do not perform as well in this area. Make it a point to set your child seat in the back seat and hook it up to see how it performs while you are at the showroom; make this a regular part of any test drive.

If buyers pay attention to these features and others, it is much easier for them to end up with family friendly cars. Develop a family car safety checklist of your own.

[1] http://www.nhtsa.gov/ Retrieved 2011-02-01.

[2] http://www.iihs.org/ Retrieved 2011-02-01.

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