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Road safety is an issue that should not be taken for granted. Although many references both in print and online have differing views as to the array of features that ensure safety for vehicle occupants, nearly all of them agree that today’s motor vehicles should be equipped with seatbelts, airbags, and antilock brakes.
The purpose of seatbelts is to keep vehicle occupants securely in place in their seats, thus reducing the risk of them being thrown about and any part of their bodies impacting the vehicle’s interior or even a solid outside surface in the event of a collision.
Make sure to choose a vehicle with seatbelts in all rows and whose seatbelts come with adjustable upper belts that can adequately accommodate occupants of various body types and ensure their safety while causing only minimal discomfort. The seatbelts should also come with pretensioners for eliminating excess slack so that occupants don’t get thrown all the way forward during crashes or even sudden braking.
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Airbags provide added protection for occupants in a vehicle’s front row by fully inflating right at the time of impact between the vehicle and an external force, like another moving vehicle or a stationary structure. This safety feature works by making sure occupants do not get in direct contact with the steering wheel, dashboard, windshield, or any other injury-causing fixture because of such impact.
Be advised, though, that an airbag that fully deploys in the event of a crash should never be treated as a substitute for a properly fastened seatbelt. For one thing, airbags do not prevent occupants from being thrown every which way in the event of an accident. Also, airbags can lead to injury—or worse—among children aged 12 and below as such features are optimized for providing protection for bigger, older occupants.
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As its name suggests, an antilock braking system (ABS) functions by preventing a vehicle’s wheels from locking whenever the driver makes a hard, sudden brake. The wheels will instead continue to rotate, albeit at a reduced rate, to allow the driver some steering control for instances such as driving on rough or slippery surfaces or avoiding obstacles.
An ABS-equipped vehicle is not completely spared from accidents, though. There is still a possibility for the driver to lose steering control even with ABS, particularly when travelling at excessive speeds or when making moderate to sharp turns without slowing down.