The Family Car
Buying a Safer Car
By Judy Koutsky
Buying a car for your family is a big decision and one not to be made lightly. To find out which vehicle category is right for you, visit our quiz (link to quiz). Factors such as safety, affordability, gas mileage and comfort are all things to be considered. Organizations, such as the AAA (http://www.aaa.com/), are invaluable in providing information on car safety, driving costs, and the proper use of car seats for your kids.
AAA offers some great advice to aid you in the car searching and purchasing process.
There are many factors to consider when buying a car, including:
- The number of drivers that will be using the car.
- The number of passengers that will be transported on a regular basis.
- The ages and sizes of children riding in the car.
- The number of child seats to be installed, and in which seats they belong.
- Whether or notthere are features (like anchors and tethers) that are built into the vehicle to accommodate child safety seats.
- Whether or not the car’s seating arrangement and seat belt system meet the needs of your children.
Safety should be the top concern on your list when evaluating a car. The following features are a must and are often featured on many new vehicles. When buying a used car, make sure these features are available, and in good working condition.
- Manual Air Bag On/Off Switch: This feature allows the driver to manually control the passenger air bag when a child is unable to sit in the back (link to seat belt safety page).
- Built-In Safety Seats: Permanent seats have an advantage over add-on seats because compatibility is not an issue.
- Rear Center Lap/Shoulder Belt: This feature allows the passengers sitting in the middle of the back seat to be as safe as possible.
- Adjustable Seat Belts: For people of various heights and sizes, this feature accommodates both adults and children.
- Tethers and Anchorages: These are built into the seat and are used to secure safety seats in place.
- Interior Trunk Release: This feature allows drivers to quickly open the trunk in the case of someone accidentally becoming trapped in that area of the car.
AAA has several publications available with more information on buying a safer car, including a breakdown of the top vehicles on the market according to studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. To learn more, please contact your local http://www.aaa.com/ or visit www.nhtsa.gov.