File picture: Newspress USA.
File picture: Newspress USA.

Why are safety features not a priority for SA car buyers?

By Motoring Staff Time of article published Jul 23, 2020

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Johannesburg - When buying a car, new or pre-owned, buyers usually want to know they are getting “bang for their buck”.

Richard Green, the national director of the SA Motor Body Repair Association (Sambra), says industry reports indicate local car-buyers’ rank reliability, comfort, a manufacturer’s reputation, warranty, fuel efficiency and purchase price rank higher than safety features.

“The truth is, we buy what we can afford. Several motorists can afford only entry-level cars which come with basic safety features,” says Green.

According to an article based on Statista’s Global Consumer Survey 2018, US car buyers rank safety first, followed by fuel efficiency, high quality, good warranty and customer service, suitability for everyday use, driving comfort, design, low price, spaciousness and whether it is their preferred make.

Sambra answers questions around vehicle safety:

Is it right to assume a second-hand car is not as safe as a new car?

No. A second-hand car that has not been involved in any major accidents, has a complete service record and has been well maintained is as safe as a new car. However, the latest model cars might have more advanced safety features, such as Forward Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, City Automatic Emergency Braking, High Speed Automatic Emergency Braking and Blind Spot Warning, which make the car safer than a car without the features.

What safety features can prevent a collision and keep motorists safe?

Active Safety Systems: They remain active while you drive and work to prevent you from losing control.

Most are electronic and include traction control, electronic stability control, braking systems and advanced driver-assist systems that use sensors (forward collision warning, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control).

New generation of City Safety: Volvo’s Steering Support.

Passive Safety Systems: These become active during an accident and work to minimise damage and reduce the risk of injury during impact.

They include seat belts, air bags and the specialised construction components of the vehicle (crumple zones and safety cage).

Why is it important to have a vehicle repaired by a reputable motor body repairer shop after an accident?

Safety features can be compromised in an accident. Accredited, reputable and manufacturer-approved repair shops are professionals and meet the necessary standards, ensuring you receive quality service and workmanship. Your service plan or warranty or both could be suspended if the incorrect or sub-standard repair process is used.

Does the onus for safety of a vehicle rest solely with the manufacturer?

The largest part of the responsibility lies with the manufacturer. However, safety features should be a priority when a motorist buys a vehicle. After purchase, the vehicle should be kept in a mint, safe and roadworthy condition.

What is the most common safety feature motorists neglect to use?

Seat belts. Accidents often happen during short trips.

Any person not strapped in presents a threat to themselves and others in the vehicle during an accident.

Which safety features are the most effective in preventing an accident?

Safety systems that combine collision warning and automatic braking.

What are the main safety features motorists must insist on?

Airbags, Antilock Braking System, Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, Automatic Emergency Braking and adaptive headlights.

What could the industry improve on?

A safer car with more enhanced safety features costs more money. An AA report suggested manufacturers do away with more of the luxury items in exchange for more enhanced safety features.

Green says a recent report considered the safety features of 27 cars in South Africa priced under R180 000. It found there have been improvements to the safety features, but that more must be done.

VISIT to buy a high-quality new or used vehicle today.

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