How do I choose a safer car?

Some simple rules will see you in a much safer car next time you buy

This is not a suggestion to go out and spend $40k right now just so you’ll be better protected. Safety hardware is just something you should consider when you next upgrade your car. (It’s not the only thing, obviously, but it is an important consideration.)

The different safety levels offered by different cars can have a vast impact upon the outcome for you if you crash. For example, for every 12 people who die in cars with one- or two-star safety ratings, six of those deceased people would have lived if they had instead been in a four- or five-star car.

The organisation that determines these vehicle safety ratings is ANCAP ( ANCAP is independent and highly credible, and they work to an international standard for these determinations. You can believe what the ANCAP website says.

If you can’t afford a new car, it’s some consolation to learn there are plenty of affordable used cars in the market now with four- or five-star ratings. See for more information there.

Another rule of thumb is that cars with electronic stability control (ESC, but also called ESP, VSA, VDC, or just ‘stability control’ because the car industry has its head up its bum on this ‘me too’ technology caper) plus head-protecting side or curtain airbags also offer superior protection compared with cars that lack this hardware. If you get as car with emergency brake assist (EBA) it can help cut stopping distance in a panic stop.

Newer cars also steer and stop better than older cars, in general. This so-called ‘active safety’ is harder to assess but it can help you avoid crashing in the first place. Prevention is generally better than cure.