How safe is your car? A crash course in road safety

Mother-to-be Hemma Vara’s on a mission to get the safest ride
Young mother driving son in car

As an expectant mother in the market for a new car, my family’s safety is my top priority. Even the most skilled drivers can encounter hazards or make mistakes, so it’s essential to consider your vehicle’s crash avoidance capabilities to safeguard yourself, your loved ones and others.

While your car’s crash avoidance features aren’t a substitute for keeping a careful eye on the road, they can help prevent crashes which commonly involve leaving the road, losing control on bends and head-ons.

Data from NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi shows that between 2011 and 2020, these type of crashes accounted for 67% of deaths and serious injuries in Aotearoa.

Read on for our road safety guide on crash avoidance features to look out for when buying a vehicle, and visit to research all car models’ features and safety ratings.

Crash avoidance features to know

Automatic Emergency Braking

This system automatically slows your car if it detects that a crash is about to occur. Some AEB systems are designed for low-speed driving, like around town, others work at high-speed, such as on motorways.

These braking systems are proven to prevent or reduce injuries in head-on and rear-end collisions, which are some of the leading causes of death or serious injury on our roads.

Intelligent Speed Assistance

Another feature to look out for, this system helps you keep within the speed limit, alerting you whenever the speed limit changes or if you’re driving over the limit.

Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Assist

These systems help prevent your car from drifting out of its lane and colliding with another vehicle. Lane Departure Warning alerts you if your car starts to drift, while Lane Keeping Assist gently steers it back into the lane.

Blind-spot Monitoring

A helpful feature that can assist you avoid collisions by using sensors to alert you when other vehicles are potentially in your blind spots. Since all cars have these visual black holes, having an extra heads- up makes sense.

Rear Collision Warning

Finally, look for vehicles with Rear Collision Warning. This feature can alert you whenever traffic, pedestrians or other obstacles and hazards are behind your car, allowing you to brake just in time.

WOF vs Safety Rating

Many people think having a current Warrant of Fitness (WoF) is enough for their car, but a WoF only tells you if it meets the minimum safety standards at the time of inspection. It does not tell you how well your car will protect you in a crash. Vehicle safety ratings are the best indication of how safe people will be in a crash. The higher the rating, the safer you and your family will be.

To check a car’s crash avoidance features, safety rating and other helpful info, like fuel economy and emissions, and more road safety tips visit

Get Woman’s Day home delivered!  

Subscribe and save up to 29% on a magazine subscription.

Related stories