In partnership with Ford
We’ve come a long way since seat belts were first made compulsory in cars in 1965 (though UK drivers didn’t legally have to wear one until 1983, would you believe).
However, safety is often your first priority when it comes to buying any car and Ford is ahead of the game with a gamut of next-gen safety features to benefit any kind of driver and any kind of drive.
These days, any new car will come with the basics: antilock brakes (which help prevent spinning on slippery surfaces and required since 2004); traction control (which aids road grip) and electronic stability control, a series of built-in sensors that detect things such as wheel speed, steering angle and rotation, and sideways motion to help prevent sliding or skidding. Both have been compulsory in all new cars in the UK since 2011.
The Euro NCAP rating of a vehicle is your first port of call for the overall safety of a vehicle. Independently awarded, it considers four key areas, looking at the safety of adult occupants and children separately, as well as how the car responds to what are called ‘vulnerable road users’ (cyclists, pedestrians, etc) and ‘safety assist’ – technological extras that ease any and everything from blind spots to hands-free performance.
These are then pulled together into a collective star rating, with five being the highest and therefore safest – a rating that the all new Ford Puma and Kuga have been awarded across their ranges.
So let’s take a look at some of the features the safest cars have available to order – both available now and in the months to come.
An early version of an airbag was first introduced, in the US, all the way back in the 1950s. It took another three decades, however, for them to appear in models for sale in the UK and a further 25 (1991 to be precise) for them became mandatory in all new cars for UK front seat passengers and drivers.
Now in addition to the driver and passenger front airbags, some cars also include side-impact airbags as well as individual ones for each seat.Compulsory? No. Worth thinking about? Absolutely.
While all vehicle headlights have to be able to be dipped (and meet the standard to do so), adaptive headlights go several steps further, using sensors to ‘read’ the road and lighting conditions, improving not just your own visibility but helping to prevent glare for oncoming drivers. Not just polite then, but crucial.
Does exactly what the name suggests: sensors monitor the proximity of any obstacles ahead. If it looks like you’re going to crash into said obstacle, the vehicle automatically applies the brakes, hopefully preventing any collision altogether, or at the very least minimising any damage caused.
Considering how easy it is for even the most attentive driver to momentarily lose attention or have something suddenly appear in the road, we think you’ll agree it’s pretty much a must-have.
Uses sensors to slow or speed your vehicle to ensure you maintain a constant distance from the car in front. When the system senses a change in the distance to the car ahead, it will automatically brake or accelerate to maintain the cruising speed you previously set.
Clever or what? If the car in front suddenly speeds off, however, your car won’t routinely follow it. Instead, the ACC system will hold the pre-set speed until you change out, or it catches up with another car.
If you do a lot of motorway miles, lane assist technology is a feature that’s certainly worth getting to know better. Lane Centering Mode uses a variety of sensors and uses the lane lines on the road to alert your attention to any ‘wandering’.
If the system detects you’re veering into an adjacent lane, it emits an audio or visual warning, and in some cases, gently nudges the wheel to direct you back on track. One to look out for in the all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E.
No matter how careful or skilled a driver you are, all vehicles have blind spots. This little chap employs sensors to ‘see’ what you cannot, thanks to in-built sensors which scan the blind spots on either side of your car.
It can be a great help when you change lanes too. If the sensors happen to detect another vehicle, perhaps it’s a bicycle, an orange light that’s clearly displayed in the corresponding side door mirror will illuminate to warn you.Useful to say the least.
Yes, being able to park properly counts as a safety feature and Ford's Active Park Assist* might be the holy grail for anyone who needs support when it comes to parking.
Simply hold down the button and the vehicle will guide you smoothly into position with an ease you might never have thought possible. Works with your basic perpendicular parking too.
See what happens when Marie Claire’s editor Holly Rains puts the Active Park Assist to the test as she road tests the Ford Puma.
*Driver-assist features are supplemental to and do not replace the driver’s attention, judgement and need to control the vehicle. It does not replace safe driving. See Owner’s Manual for vehicle details and limitations.
Not all features are standard across all ranges, some features described are available at an additional cost.