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Old 9th October 2008, 19:07   #1
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Exclamation A Guide to: Buying a Safer Automobile

Generally, Indians value fuel consumption or some other non-safety factor when considering what automobile (auto) to buy. What we do not understand until it's too late is that the cost of a major accident, ranging from medical bills to permanent disabilities to ourselves and our family, usually negates the money saved on a non-safety factor such as fuel consumption.

In addition, I once read a statistic years ago that India allegedly had the second highest number of daytime road accidents (Egypt was #1) and the highest number of nighttime accidents in the world. I do not know whether that statistic has improved for 2008.

Regarding motorcycles or "donorcycles," the term given by hospital personnel, it's obvious the extreme risks one takes by using a private 2-wheeler versus public transportation or even the cheapest, oldest, most unsafe 4-wheeler. Motorcyclists in India do not seem to understand how firmly and securely a full-face helmet needs to fit on one's head and how important it is to use internationally approved and respected helmets and body-armour. Yes, it's true that good helmets and armour can cost as much or more than the 2-wheeler but if you cannot afford the cost of safety equipment BEFORE buying a two-wheeler, it would be wise not to even seriously think of buying a two-wheeler. And even if you can afford the safety equipment, you should STILL think twice before buying that two-wheeler. Just look at the deaths of our own Teambhp members who were 2-wheeler enthusiasts. I agree with Ratan Tata's idea where it is better to see an individual or family of four inside a tiny Nano which has some protection rather than zero protection on an unstable 2-wheeler.

So, what should we consider before purchasing new/used auto's?

Seatbelts, Head restraints, Airbags, ABS, ESP, TPMS, Motion-activated central locking, Rollover sensor, Child Seats, and most important of all -- Independent Crash Test Results.

1) Do all the passengers receive a seat belt? If so, is that belt a 2-point or a 3-point belt? Why? Because a 2-point belt does not stop the upper body from being whipped forward during a crash, causing internal organ bleeding. People have lost their spleens due to 2-point belt internal injuries.

2) Does each passenger receive a head restraint? Why? Because whiplash can be a severe injury especially in a rear-impact crash.

3) How many airbags? Does the auto have front, side, and curtain airbags? Are the side airbags located in the door or in the seat? Does the manufacturer offer optional airbags in addition to the standard ones?

4) Does it have ABS (anti-lock braking)?

5) Does it have ESP/ESC? Up to a point, Electronic Stability Program/Control can prevent loss of control. Loss of control can lead to a crash or rollover. And for enthusiasts the question is: Can it be switched off partially or completely and does it switch on by default every time the auto is started?

6) Does it have TPMS (tyre pressure monitoring system)? Does the TPMS readout give individual tyre readings or not?

7) Does it have motion-activated central locking? Why? Because during a crash, the doors can open, helping to eject a passenger partially or completely. If the auto is programmed to lock the doors above a speed of 10-20 kmph, occupants are safer.

8) Does the auto, especially SUV's, have a rollover sensor? Why? You would be amazed how easily cars and SUV's roll when they lose control and hit a low object at an angle even when they have not hit any other vehicle. If there is no side-impact, the curtain airbags will not fire unless a rollover sensor is present.

9) Will your children's car seat fit correctly with either the seat belt or the LATCH system? Do you have a rear-facing car seat for children up to 3-4 years like they do in Sweden? Children up to age 12 should be belted into a full seat or a booster seat until they are tall enough and heavy enough that the shoulder belt of the 3-point belt can rest correctly across their collar bone without touching their neck and the lap belt can rest correctly across their hips and not their abdomen.

10) The Ultimate Test is Independent Crash Test Results. Have you reviewed these results and how did the auto in question fare? Why? A crash test takes all the theoretical calculations, some of the safety gadgets plus the auto's structure and subjects them all to a real-world test. This test is so difficult that the best manufacturers in the world have trouble passing it with flying colours consistently for all their models.
Therefore, please see if the auto you are thinking of buying has been crash tested on any of the following websites:

Europe:
Euro NCAP - For safer cars | HOME

U.S.A. : (Note: IIHS tests are offset frontal and perpendicular side while the government's Safercar/NHTSA/NCAP tests are complete frontal and angled side.)

US NCAP - NHTSA, United States, New Car Assessment Program, North American Cars

IIHS-HLDI: Crash Testing*&*Highway Safety

Safercar.gov

Australia:
ANCAP :: Crash Test Results

Japan:
National Organization for Automotive Safety & Victim's Aid

China started their NCAP program two years ago. Hopefully, India will follow.

Remember, if an auto model in question has not been tested, see if you can find out through wikipedia whether it shares its platform with another auto model. Then check if the latter has been tested. If so, then you can have a rough idea of the crash safety of the former.

Please NOTE: All bets on safety are off if you crash at a speed which exceeds the speed at which the above mentioned crash tests are conducted. Therefore, travelling at a speed so high that you will not be able to brake in time to get down to within the crash design tolerances is unwise.

The future will bring us even better technology to protect us in a crash but we need to keep ourselves informed by reading and use that information to make a better cost to benefit ratio analysis for any auto we consider buying.

I hope to educate and be educated on the topic of auto crash safety so please respond on aspects I may have overlooked. Thank you.

Last edited by Dose : 9th October 2008 at 19:20.
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Old 10th June 2009, 12:42   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dose View Post
Motorcyclists in India do not seem to understand how firmly and securely a full-face helmet needs to fit on one's head and how important it is to use internationally approved and respected helmets and body-armour.

A very nice article for starters.I am a new man to cars,shifting from bikes.This article has given ME a very good knowledge and I am sharing this with my cousins and other friends.Thanks a lot.

Body armour : Body Armour | Buy Now at ChainReactionCycles.com

do we get that india ?
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Old 10th June 2009, 14:28   #3
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Good info.
Indian Govt need to come up with NCAP program like china and have to put up a mechanism to check the quality of the material used in automobiles.
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Old 10th June 2009, 15:45   #4
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forget the govt. people should realise the need of safety. people still buy cars like M800 and Alto, there are still Omnis running around as an ambulance. i wonder why? it took hell lot of effort from traffic police in pune to ensure seatbelts are compulsory.

However we are still talking about safety equipments, how about safe driving? people still talk on phone while driving / riding, they change lanes, they overspeed, they use highbeam at night in city, they drive on wrong side just to save distance long u turn. and many such things

Safety should be in your attitude, eaquipements are just to help you.

Last edited by throttleking : 10th June 2009 at 15:48.
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Old 10th June 2009, 16:52   #5
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Hi Dose! That was some very useful information. I had ensured while buying my car that I would rather buy one with more safety features than buy something which is fancy. I bought a Dzire ZDi. Shall closely follow this thread.
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Old 10th June 2009, 16:53   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by throttleking View Post
forget the govt. people should realise the need of safety. people still buy cars like M800 and Alto, there are still Omnis running around as an ambulance. i wonder why? it took hell lot of effort from traffic police in pune to ensure seatbelts are compulsory.

However we are still talking about safety equipments, how about safe driving? people still talk on phone while driving / riding, they change lanes, they overspeed, they use highbeam at night in city, they drive on wrong side just to save distance long u turn. and many such things

Safety should be in your attitude, eaquipements are just to help you.

But everyone have their budget range.If government makes a mandatory rule that every vehicle must and should have an air bag,then people can change.And many don't know the importance of powersteering,ABS etc.There should be basic ground rules for the car like

1.Airbag for driver
2.ABS
3.EBD


phone while driving/usage of highbeam.I second that.No one uses a medium beam in the night.And many drivers talk on the phones in heavy traffic jammed roads.
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Old 10th June 2009, 23:14   #7
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Quote:
1.Airbag for driver
Just so you can survive while your kid at the back seat dies?

Forget cars, look at our auto rickshaw...then look at the way they drive, our government needs to grow a pair and make changes.

But you know what, the mentality is no one needs abs and airbags because no one goes fast. My own dad said that, then I told him what if I come and bang into your stationary car, what then? He had no reply

Standard of safety in this country is horrible. Also our roads are occupied by animals and pedestrians so yea
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Old 11th June 2009, 00:05   #8
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Default Dormant for 8 months!

A wonderful thread and it was dormant for 8 whole months before Rude7 bumped it up. Thanks dose for that wonderful starter article.

Indians are totally negligent towards safety and safety equipment. The manufacturers pander to them and sell cars without even basic safety equipment. On the other hand, all the equipment in the world is not enough to protect you from that truck coming the wrong way in the fast lane!

Forget buying, even having bought, a lot of people byepass the safety equipment - I have seen a person who put a spare buckle of the belt in the socket to stop the alarm while the belt hangs loose, another has the belt strung along the back of her seat so that the alarm is stopped. Airbags disabled (to save the $$$ required to replace them if they go are deployed). Seat belt reminder alarms disabled. Airbag sensors not checked. Helmets (if they can be called that) stuck awry on the head with the straps hanging near the rider's adams apple. The list goes on and on!

Not even God can help us, for we do not care about our own life.

"Jaago chaalak jaago - nahin to marjaogey"

Cheers,
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Old 11th June 2009, 09:55   #9
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A wondeful guide. Now if we can add the details for each car on the forum then it will be really useful.

Rather than searching for boruchers everywhere if we can get some rights / permission to share them, we can have a sub forum Which gives details about each car / bike from every manufacturer
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Old 11th June 2009, 10:05   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gagan.js View Post
Just so you can survive while your kid at the back seat dies?

Forget cars, look at our auto rickshaw...then look at the way they drive, our government needs to grow a pair and make changes.

But you know what, the mentality is no one needs abs and airbags because no one goes fast. My own dad said that, then I told him what if I come and bang into your stationary car, what then? He had no reply

Standard of safety in this country is horrible. Also our roads are occupied by animals and pedestrians so yea
I forgot to mention ATLEAST before that.Everyone cannot afford to get an airbag to their cars,so atleast the driver should have an air bag.If that's a family car,there should be no compromise.

why should we go for auto rickshaws,see the government public transportation purpose buses,they are handled by crappy drivers.And in hyderabad,there is a private transportation bus company called setwin.They don't have a particular bus stop,they stop the bus wherever they want and sometimes in car parking places.These people are enough to disturb the slow going drivers.

And the discussion between you-your dad reminds me of my friend and his uncle.Very true.Safety is compromised in our country.Roads are not good.Even roads do matter in safety measurements.

Quote:
Originally Posted by indian21r View Post
A wondeful guide. Now if we can add the details for each car on the forum then it will be really useful.

Rather than searching for boruchers everywhere if we can get some rights / permission to share them, we can have a sub forum Which gives details about each car / bike from every manufacturer
Not everything in detail.It will be a waste.If we have a crash tests topic for every car in indian market,then it will help the new buyers like me a lot.


Note from the Team-BHP Support Team : Please use the "edit" button if posting within 15 minutes of the first post, instead of creating another back-to-back post

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Last edited by Technocrat : 11th June 2009 at 12:20. Reason: please read the note in post
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Old 11th June 2009, 10:25   #11
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I have a query open in what car section. After having driven in the US and have seen how the active and passive safety can be helpful in case of accidents, I wanted to buy a vehicle which would have all of them and would also be within my budget. Alas, no manufacturers had these things even as optional when i was planning to purchase one in 2006. I am still on the lookout for such a vehicle. Even today such equipments are either kept optional or are available on the top spec model (Swift, Astar,Linea,Ritz exception ANHC)

Safety is low priority item both on the manufacturers list as well as the consumers list and this appalls me to no end. What we project as a society is that we do not value life -- neither our own, nor our near or dear ones and not even for the pedestrians who are affected by lack of the safety equipments needed on an automobile.
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Old 11th June 2009, 12:12   #12
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We are still talking about a growing society and a developing nation which has openend its eyes to the world just about 2 decades ago. To expect all this to happen will take a lot of time and education.
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Old 11th June 2009, 12:48   #13
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>> Generally, Indians value fuel consumption or some other non-safety factor when considering what automobile (auto) to buy. What we do not understand until it's too late is that the cost of a major accident, ranging from medical bills to permanent disabilities to ourselves and our family, usually negates the money saved on a non-safety factor such as fuel consumption.

Which vehicle have all these safety factors? And What is the price for that?
It is not just the FE, Its the price. Then then awareness, non car savvy buyers do not know most of the features you have listed.
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Old 11th June 2009, 13:21   #14
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Some basic tips that I follow:

- If possible buy a bigger car, a sedan car will save you from accidental injury more than a compact hatch due to longer hood and diggi.

- Drive slow. This is very important as most accidents happen when speed was more. Think about hittting with another vehicle at slow speed, you may only get few scratches on the car or bumper broken and high speed leads to totalled vehicles and loss of life we see daily in "accidents" thread here. Going to a place 5 min late is better than going to hospital then possibly graveyard.

- Drive will full presence of mind and follow good manner of driving. Keep yourself away from all kind of distraction and drive carefully.

- Safety features in cars are just for unfortunate accidents which you cannot avoid, having a car with Airbags, ABS, ESP, TPMS DOES NOT mean you can be less careful with driving on that car. Sometimes even all these features toegther may not be able to save life.
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Old 11th June 2009, 13:29   #15
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Quote:
If possible buy a bigger car, a sedan car will save you from accidental injury more than a compact hatch due to longer hood and diggi.
Hey it all depends on how the car is built. Yes the boot might act as a crush zone but longer hood? And what about side impacts?

A lot of small cars have a better crash test rating than sedans so the myth is busted that sedans are safer.
Plus i20 offers side curtain airbags which our sedans don't so it's safer
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