North Vancouver, British Columbia – Only 32 per cent of B.C. drivers considered safety a top priority when buying a new car, versus 48 per cent who named price and 42 per cent who went for fuel efficiency, according to a survey by Ipsos Reid.

The survey, cited by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), further revealed that most car buyers primarily take standard safety features into consideration, rather than newer, cutting-edge technologies. When asked which features are most important when buying a vehicle, 57 per cent said airbags, 23 per cent said anti-lock brakes, 18 per cent cited brakes in general, and 10 per cent said various seatbelt features. Only 1 per cent of respondents named electronic stability control as an important safety feature, despite findings by the U.S. Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) that showed the systems reduce the risk of being involved in a single-vehicle fatal crash by 49 per cent.

ICBC recommends looking for the following key safety features when purchasing a new or used car:

Warning systems. While only identified as an important feature by 2 per cent of respondents, lane departure and forward crash systems provide audio and visual cues, which may include flashing lights and alarms, to warn the driver of potential risks. These systems are mainly available on higher-end vehicles but can also be added as an aftermarket system.

Active head restraints – A well-designed head restraint, adjusted at the proper height, reduces injuries by 24 to 44 per cent. Active head restraints adjust to better protect the neck and head in a collision.

Anti-lock brakes – These give you more control by preventing the wheels from locking, allowing you to maintain steering ability and avoid skidding while braking.

Electronic stability control – This is mandatory in all 2012 vehicles manufactured after September 1, 2011 and is available in many used vehicles made since 2006. It selectively applies the brakes and/or reduces engine power to keep the vehicle moving in the driver’s intended direction. It also works best at reducing the risk of a vehicle rollover, especially in SUVs, pickup trucks and some vans.

Three-point seatbelts – Look for three-point or harness seatbelts in all positions. Pretensioners retract the belt to remove excess slack in a crash and reduce the severity of injuries.

New airbag technology – Advanced front airbags have sensors that measure the occupant’s size, seat position and crash severity to determine the inflation levels for driver and passenger, increasing safety and reducing injury. Curtain side airbags are also highly recommended as they protect all passengers from side collisions and can help reduce the chance of ejection during a rollover.

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