There are two different types of safety features which are as follows:
Primary – these features are designed to help avoid a collision e.g. brake lights as these warn other road users that you are slowing down or stopping.
Secondary – these features are designed to reduce injuries to you and your passengers at the time of an impact e.g. seat belts which restrain you from coming out your seat on impact.
Before you buy a vehicle you should take it for a test drive to trial the various safety components. The following items can be tested just by test driving:
- Check that all lights are working correctly and that you have a clear vision of the road
- The brakes should be firm, not spongy and the vehicle shouldn’t pull to one side when applying the brakes.
- You feel comfortable with the position of the steering wheel – some cars have adjustable steering if necessary
- You can reach any necessary controls you may require
- You have the ability to adjust the seat so that you feel comfortable when driving – including the head restraint (the most ridged part of the head restraint, the middle, should be level with the top of your ear and eyes).
- Have good visibility of all the instruments
- Have a clear vision all the way around the vehicle – the head restraints shouldn’t block your vision
- Do you feel in control of the vehicle when driving?
If you are worried about the safety of your vehicle, take it to your local garage for a complete vehicle inspection to check the vehicle’s operation and mechanical condition. Please note that an MOT pass certificate only indicates the vehicle is roadworthy at the time of testing, and does not indicate a clean bill of health necessarily for the next few months.
Seatbelts – one of the most obvious safety devices on the vehicle, this safety feature has been in place for over 30 years and seatbelts are constantly being upgraded to provide better security in case of impact. Seatbelts are fitted with pre-tensioners and grabbers that take up any slack from the seatbelt just at the point of impact in a crash. Lap and diagonal seatbelts are now commonly used for the centre rear seat in the vehicle, replacing just the singular strap across the lap. Seatbelts now also have limiters which prevent the belt pulling too harshly on your chest on impact.
Air bags – These are an additional safety feature commonly used in modern day vehicles – some vehicles even having up to 6 airbags. These airbags can be located in the steering wheel, dashboard or door (or in the edge of the roof above the doors). The airbags inflate on impact which gives extra protection to the passengers wearing seatbelts.
Anti-lock brakes (ABS) – ABS helps you uphold steering control under emergency braking and has been set as a standard safety feature on all new cars since 2004.
Electronic stability control (ESC) – ESC detects when you are about to lose control of the vehicle as it senses the difference between your intended course and the car’s actual course. When you are about to lose control it automatically applies braking to individual wheels to help stabilise the vehicle.
Tyre pressure sensors – These sensors monitor the pressure in the tyres which will give you an early warning of a puncture - low tyre pressure will adversely affect the handling and braking of the vehicle in an emergency.
CRASH TESTS - EUROPEAN NEW CAR ASSESSMENT RATINGS (EURO NCAP)
A crash test is the only consistent way of finding out how well the vehicle structure absorbs the collision impact without crushing the passenger compartment. The test will also indicate how well your safety features (e.g. airbags) can protect the vehicle's passengers. The crash tests are carried out by Euro NCAP which rate the vehicle’s overall protection using a star rating (maximum 5 stars) taking into consideration the protection it provides for an adult occupant, a child occupant and the protection for pedestrians. It is also rated on the driver assistance and active safety technology systems.
Here is a list of the rated French cars that have been crash tested since 2009 (click the models for a further detailed result, pictures & videos). The rating system changed in 2009 click for an explanation of the new and old rating system. Please note, not all vehicles have been tested since the change in the rating system.
***** AWARDED 5 STARS *****
Citroen DS4 tested in 2011
Citroen DS5 tested in 2011
Citroen C4 tested in 2010
Citroen C4 Picasso tested in 2009
Citroen C5 tested in 2009
Citroen DS3 tested in 2009
Peugeot 208 tested in 2012
Peugeot 3008 tested in 2009
Peugeot 308 tested in 2009
Peugeot 308CC tested in 2009
Peugeot 5008 tested in 2009
Peugeot 508 tested in 2011
Renault Grand Scenic tested in 2009
**** AWARDED 4 STARS ****
Citroen C-Zero tested in 2011
Citroen C3 tested in 2009
Citroen C3 Picasso tested in 2009
Peugeot iOn tested in 2011
Renault Fluence ZE tested in 2011
*** AWARDED 3 STARS ***
Citroen Nemo tested in 2010
If you haven’t got a French car or your particular model isn’t displayed above, click here to find out your vehicle’s rating.