What car safety features should you look for in a new car?

From blind spot monitoring systems to speed limiters, many of today’s new vehicles are kitted out with an array of protective tech.
So do you know your AEB from your ESC? Do you understand what tech could help you with night driving? Or how about devices that prevent you from starting your engine if you’re over the drink-drive limit?
Drivers are often prompted to seek out cars with advanced safety features after they’ve been convicted of a motoring offence. If you’re returning to driving after a ban or conviction, we at Insurance Factory won’t judge – we’ll simply arrange convicted driver insurance to get you safely back on the road.
Read on for our quick guide to some of the most useful safety systems for modern motors.

Vehicle safety today

To understand vehicle safety, you need to know about the Euro NCAP – or the European New Car Assessment Programme, which tests some of the most popular vehicles introduced to the market.
The scheme was introduced in 2009 to make it easier to compare vehicle safety across four areas: Adult Occupant Protection (driver and passenger); Child Occupant Protection; Vulnerable Road User Protection, e.g. pedestrians and cyclists; and Safety Assist, or tech used to help the driver and avoid crashes.
Vehicles are issued with a percentage rating in each area, plus an overall rating of up to five stars.

So which new cars have been given the top safety rating? In 2021, the following vehicles received the coveted five stars:

  • Polestar 2
  • Genesis G80
  • VW ID.4
  • Skoda ENYAQ iV
  • Genesis GV80
  • Cupra Formentor
The Renault Kangoo, the Citro├źn C4, and the Vauxhall Mokka also performed well, scoring four stars.
However, the Euro NCAP doesn’t test every car on the market. And of course, it’s only fair to compare a vehicle with others from the same year, as safety technology has improved so rapidly.
So let’s take a look at some of the latest and emerging tech that could be boosting vehicles’ star ratings now and in the years to come.

Visibility aids

Reversing cameras are already fitted as standard in most vehicles today. But driving backwards is not the only time when your visibility is hampered.
It’s happened to all of us: you pull out of a junction and straight into the path of a cyclist. Or you’re changing lanes on a motorway, and are almost hit from behind by a vehicle you just didn’t see.
Blind spots are a serious problem for drivers. Fortunately, technology has some answers: blind spot detection systems, which use radar or cameras to warn you if there are any hazards in your path.
Safety Exit Assist is an extension of this system, introduced into certain Hyundai models, which prevents people in the back seat from opening their doors if there’s a hazard coming up from behind. It’s a great way to protect your kids from inadvertently slamming a door into a cyclist, or jumping out into the path of a car.
Then what about night driving? Your headlights only go so far, and if you’re travelling at speed, hazards can loom up horribly quickly. So infrared sensors can detect the heat from humans or animals in the road, and show an image on your sat nav or other display.
Increasingly, vehicle manufacturers are also researching ways to improve headlights so they illuminate the way ahead without dazzling oncoming drivers. Adaptive headlights can adjust to the roads and driving conditions, helping to keep you and other road users safe.

Speed detectors

It’s so easy for your speed to creep up without you realising, or to get confused about what the speed limit is.
But more than 300 people died in 2019 in accidents where inappropriate speed was a factor, and most such accidents take place on roads where the limit is 30mph or lower. So built-in speed limit detectors are a very welcome invention, potentially saving you fines and points on your licence – and keeping the roads safer.
There are a couple of different technologies emerging to help you drive within the limit. First of all, your sat nav can tell you what the speed limit is as you drive, and many will also monitor your speed.
Plus, vehicles can be fitted with either passive or active Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) systems. A passive system will recognise the limit and warn you if you’re breaking it, while an active system will cut fuel transmission, causing a gradual deceleration. Drivers can override this: either by switching it off before a journey, or by pressing hard on the accelerator.
ISA will be fitted to all new vehicles in the EU from 2022, and the UK has said it will follow suit.  Many motorists who’ve committed speeding offences will be eager to get behind the wheel of ISA-fitted vehicles! If you’re one of them, contact Insurance Factory for convicted driver insurance.

Alertness sensors

According to the road safety charity ROSPA, driver fatigue is thought to be a contributory factor in up to 20% of accidents – and a quarter of fatal or serious ones. So it’s vital that you remember to take a break before tiredness sets in.
How can tech help you? By using sensors to pick up on subtle changes in speed, steering, road position and use of controls. They’ll then warn you that you’re getting drowsy, so you know it’s time for a rest.
Even if you’re not tired, it’s common to get distracted while driving. Cars with in-built cameras pointing at your head can detect when you’re not paying full attention to the road, and warn you of any hazards you’ve failed to spot.
Yes, it does all sound a bit intrusive, as you’re being watched all the time! But hopefully, it will keep you, your passengers and other road users safe.

Alcohol detectors

Official figures show that around 230 people were killed in UK road accidents in 2019 where at least one driver was over the alcohol limit.
Even if you don’t cause an accident, if you’re caught behind the wheel after a few drinks, the penalties are severe. They can include a driving ban, a fine, and even prison, depending on the exact offence. Many insurance providers won’t cover you after a drink-driving offence, so you’ll need to look for specialist convicted driver insurance, too.
Therefore, it’s essential that you stick to the limit of 80mg alcohol per 100ml of blood in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and 50mg in Scotland. And now your car can help you stay on the right side of the law!
An Alcolock is a great method for checking you’re safe to drive after a quick beer. If your vehicle is fitted with this device, you need to breathe into it in order to start your car. If your breath sample is over the limit, then your car’s immobiliser system will kick in, and you’ll need to call for a taxi home.

Braking and vehicle control

For safe driving, it’s important to be alert at all times – but human error means that doesn’t always happen.
An autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system relies on sensors behind the rear view mirror to detect if you’re about to hit something, and apply the brakes automatically. It can prevent low-speed collisions, and reduce the severity of high-speed ones.
Meanwhile, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is hugely helpful to keep your car steady on the roads in an extreme manoeuvre – by applying the brakes to keep the vehicle in the right lane, or by reducing the engine’s power to slow the vehicle safely.
And if you’re just motoring along without a care in the world, then autonomous or adaptive cruise control can help protect you by keeping you travelling at the right speed, a safe braking distance from the car in front. Combined with lane keeping technology that corrects your vehicle if you start to drift across lanes, you’ll hardly need to touch the controls at all!
In fact, strange as it may sound, it could well be that the cars of the future are driverless. Given that the majority of accidents are caused by driver error, that might well be the safest option of all!

Get a quote from Insurance Factory today

Accidents are possible in even the safest vehicles, and if you’re to blame, you could end up with a motoring conviction. That can make it both tricky and expensive to get insurance cover.
At Insurance Factory, we’ve got over 20 years’ experience in helping motorists who want to learn from their mistakes get back safely on the roads. We don’t judge people who turn to us looking for convicted driver insurance – instead, we search the market to find policies to suit your requirements, your circumstances, and your budget.
We can arrange cover for drivers with a wide range of convictions, including drink-driving, speeding, dangerous driving, and non-motoring offences.
Just give us a call to discuss your situation and get a quote for convicted driv