New cars in Australia are required to meet certain safety requirements under laws established by the government. Of these safety requirements, there are three that are of a great deal of importance while not being fully understood by car buyers.
- Head, neck, and spine protection. Head rests, also known as “head restraints,” provide essential protection to the head and neck area of car occupants during a sudden stop or crash. There are three types of head restraints in Australian cars, including:
- Active head restraints that are designed to automatically deploy in the event of a collision.
- Automatic head restraints that automatically adjust position when the occupant adjusts the seat position.
- Manual head restraints that are capable of being positioned to fit the body morphology of the occupant. This is the most common type of head restraint found in cars in Australia.
- Reversing visibility in a car. The ability of the driver to easily see behind and around them or to at least have the sensory ability to know something is behind them before they reverse is important. Cars in Australia have a Reversibility Rating that allows the car consumer to know what the car’s abilities are when reversing the car. It is important to note whether cars have reverse sensors or cameras installed and to be prepared to check behind a car when children are present. Nothing can replace common sense and caution when it comes to child safety around moving vehicles.
- Forward visibility in a car. Just as reversing visibility ratings for a car can be important, equally important is forward visibility. New cars are given a forward visibility rating in Australia and new car owners should be aware of this number. Although the windscreen can be large and most traffic can be easily seen in front of the driver, some parts of the view can be obstructed by the position of the windscreen pillars that separate the windscreen from the side window in the car. A bicycle rider or a pedestrian can be concealed to the driver just a few metres away from the car, causing concern that an accident can occur. The rear pillars can also be of concern when reversing the car, especially in a busy parking lot. Be prepared to move your head to be able to see more clearly in any vehicle and consider the Forward Visibility Rating when making your next new car purchase.