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How to Avoid Serious Injury if You Are Involved in an Accident: How To Choose a Safe Vehicle

A recent study done by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that American drivers age 16 and older drive an average of 29.2 miles per day, or approximately 10,658 miles per year. Americans spend about 46 minutes a day on the road. Though this may not seem like much on a daily basis, when you add up the time spent traveling in the car over the course of a week, or even a year, the numbers are staggering.

The fact that Americans spend so much time driving makes it clear just how important it is for consumers to choose safe and reliable cars to own. When it comes to staying safe on the road, selecting a vehicle equipped with key safety features is imperative.

How Do I Know If a Vehicle is Safe?

Crashworthiness describes how well a vehicle protects its occupants in an accident. While it’s impossible to design a vehicle that will ensure survival or minimal injury in all accident scenarios, great advances have been made by vehicle manufacturers over the past four decades in providing a good measure of “crashworthiness” in the design and manufacture of their products. Much of this has come about as the result of standards created at the federal level by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with increased expectations for safety by consumers in recent times.

When choosing a vehicle, there are some key items you should consider and inquire about. In terms of evaluating a vehicle’s safety, one of the most important things to investigate is a vehicle’s crash test scores.

Vehicles that perform well in crash tests are better able to protect their occupants in the event of an accident. Reviewing a car’s Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) safety ratings and crash test results, as well as its National Highway Traffic Safety Administration evaluation can give you insight as to how your vehicle will perform should a crash occur while you are behind the wheel.

What Key Factors Influence a Vehicle’s Safety and What Equipment/Systems Should I Look for in Choosing a Vehicle?

According to Consumer Reports, published by Consumers Union, there are a number of key elements that affect the overall safety of a vehicle. These include:

Effective Braking and Emergency Handling Systems

When it comes to avoiding an accident from occurring, short stopping distance provided by anti-lock brakes and automatic on board avoidance systems are two systems that are worth looking at. Anti-lock braking has been around for years and is now a part of virtually all vehicles. Antilock brake systems (ABS) prevent a car’s wheels from locking during a slip or skid, providing the driver with more control over the vehicle and hopefully the ability to avoid a collision from occurring. While on board avoidance features are newer to the safety scene, they are also valuable additions to today’s safe automobile.

Vehicle Stability

When drivers make emergency maneuvers or swerve to avoid a collision, vehicles that are “top heavy” (essentially those that have a narrow track width and high center of gravity) are more prone to rollover, resulting in a higher propensity for serious injury and death. Stable vehicles can help to keep you safe by helping to prevent rollover should an emergency situation occur and efforts to avoid a collision be necessary while you are driving.

Effective Seat and Headrest Design

Rear end collisions are relatively common and though they have a relatively low fatality rate, they can result in severe injuries, and a high incidence of typically non serious but still painful and sometimes disabling injuries, including so-called “whiplash” (cervical strain/sprain). Vehicle seats in today’s cars, for the most part, offer good protection in rear end accidents. Check out the design and ratings of headrests as they can be instrumental in preventing hyperflexion/hyperextension injuries that include cervical muscle strain/strain in the event of a rear end crash.

Seat Belts

Look for seat belts that have adjustable anchors for the shoulder belt, to provide a better fit and of course, always wear it properly and ensure that your passengers do as well. Fastening your seat belt while driving or riding in a car is one of the most important and effective ways to protect yourself and your passengers in case of an accident.

Air Bags

For nearly 20 years, air bags have been a standard feature in most passenger vehicles. Still, the number and location of the air bags—and the ratings they produce in compliance testing by the manufacturers—should be carefully reviewed and compared to those of other vehicles you are considering when looking for a new car.

Traction Control

Traction control helps drivers to maintain maximum traction even in wet or icy conditions, helping the driver avoid a collision in the first place.

Other Accident Avoidance Systems

Features such as back-up cameras, blind spot warning devices, brake assist and adaptive cruise control are included on many newer model cars and can help drivers to prevent accidents from occurring.

Consumer Reports’ Guide to Safety Features is a great resource for more information and additional details about key features to look for in safe vehicles.

Accidents and Serious Injury Still Can and Do Still Happen

Though safety features in cars can help to prevent accidents and protect passengers if an accident does occur, it is important to remember that safety features won’t stop accidents from happening. Even if the car you are driving includes many of these safety features, as a motor vehicle operator, you should still know what to do if you are injured in an automobile accident.

If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by the negligence of another driver, you are entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, and may also be entitled to recover lost wages, medical bills and other damages to the extent not provided under New York’s No Fault laws. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney is critical to the protection of your rights. The award winning personal injury lawyers at Anderson, Moschetti and Taffany have more than 90 years of combined experience handling car accident cases in Albany, Schenectady, Troy, Clifton Park, Saratoga and throughout the Capital District. They have the legal knowledge and resources you need to help you obtain the compensation you are entitled to following your involvement in a car accident.

If you feel you may have a personal injury case, please schedule your consultation with AMT Law today by calling (518) 785-4900 or fill out our online form to schedule a free personal injury case review.

Peter Moschetti

About Peter Moschetti

Mr. Moschetti is a personal injury law firm attorney and a founding member of the law firm of Anderson, Moschetti and Taffany. Over the years, he has obtained numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements in personal injury cases. Read More About Peter J. Moschetti, Jr. »