Cars that can detect cyclists, a proposed longer gap before the first MOT; many would have us believe that car safety and reliability is better than ever. But what do you think?
Twenty years ago, the car safety test organisation, Euro NCAP, ran its first set of unsuspecting family cars into a crash barrier at 40mph. Then, it side-smashed a set of identical cars at 30mph.
The results weren’t pretty.
Once the twisted bits of metal and shattered glass had come to a rest, a few conclusions were made – namely the ‘best’ cars tested wouldn’t prevent potentially serious injuries, while the worst would likely see you driving on to that great big garage in the sky.
This was the first comparable and realistic set of car safety tests carried out and published by independent experts in Europe.
(Oh, and did I mention Which? was a founding member?).
Car safety in 2017
Fast-forward to today and cars now come with assurances and long lists of safety equipment.
Compared to 1997, driver and passenger airbags, side protection airbags, seat belt reminders and electronic stability control are all standard on all cars sold across Europe.
But then there’s the flashy, and largely optional, stuff.
Some cars will now warn you when someone is in your blind spot (blind spot assist), adaptive cruise control will automatically slow you down with traffic, and brake assist will apply the brakes harder and faster than you could manually.
Many new cars have a form of AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking), which will detect if you’re a) about to crash into something and b) haven’t noticed it yet, so will hit the brakes for you in order to mitigate or prevent the crash from happening at all.
That last one is so good, it can lower your insurance. How much by depends on how sophisticated the system is.
Reliability on the rise?
It isn’t just safety either; reliability is seemingly on the rise, too.
In fact, it has been proposed that new cars could go four years without an MOT, rather than three years, as it is now.
Looking at the last Which? car reliability survey in 2016, we can see the most suffered faults with cars aged three years or less were issues with the sat-nav, entertainment system and lights.
All electrical problems and all annoying – but hardly anything that would see your car being in the garage for days on end.
Why aren’t we quoting the 2017 car survey? Because it’s still open!
If you haven’t done it yet, please do – it helps us identify the most and least reliable cars on the road, affects our test scores and you could win £2,500 just for taking part (T&Cs apply).
Do you feel safer in modern cars and are they more reliable? Or are all these safety features just turning us into lazy drivers? Are you happy with a bigger gap before the first MOT on new cars?