Car safety facts and fiction

When it comes to car safety, it’s important to know the facts, especially when you’re thinking about buying a car.

Older vehicles tend to be bigger and heavier, so they’re safer.

In fact crash records show older vehicles are less safe on average than newer vehicles, as they have fewer safety features and a less sophisticated design. They often weigh less than their modern counterparts too, as safety equipment and stronger structures, as well as things like heavier transmissions, all add to the weight of a new car.

A safe vehicle is more expensive.

Actually many reasonably priced vehicle models score very well in the safety ratings; sometimes even better than some of the more expensive models. Be sure to check out our Car Inspector App for the latest safety ratings before you buy.

Airbags can deploy accidentally and cause serious injury.

This has been reported in the US, but because Australia has very high seatbelt wearing rates, airbags in Australian cars are set to trigger at higher road speeds than in US vehicles, and are less likely to deploy unnecessarily. There have been no reported cases in Australia of major injuries caused by inflating airbags.


Dogs are safest in a pet car harness. 

That’s true; if it’s the right harness. In a collision, an unrestrained dog can suffer serious injuries, as well as injure other passengers. SGIC recently tested a variety of dog safety harnesses using life-sized and correctly weighted dog ‘dummies’. Of the 25 pet harnesses tested across a range of manufacturers, all but two failed to restrain the dummy, due to the use of weak plastic buckles similar to those used on most backpacks.

You need to brake differently with ABS.

That’s true. ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) works by releasing the brakes at the moment of wheel lock-up. This happens many times a second, and may make both the car and brake pedal shudder. For ABS to work properly you need to keep constant firm pressure on the pedal – think ‘Stomp and Steer’.