In this page we will cover

  • vehicle safety ratings
  • how the type of vehicle you choose has an impact on safety
  • choosing not to drive
The technology in vehicles plays a huge part in the safety of our roads. Modern motor vehicles are designed to protect people in the event of a crash and also to prevent road crashes from happening in the first place.

Vehicle safety ratings

Most new vehicles are tested for to see how well they protect occupants, and other road users, in a crash. In Europe these tests are carried out by Euro NCAP.

Euro NCAP provides a star rating for overall safety, which is made up from an assessment of four areas

  1. adult occupant protection
  2. child protection
  3. vulnerable road user protection
  4. safety assist, which assesses driver assistance and crash avoidance technologies

All four categories are included in the overall rating, so to achieve the top five-star rating new vehicles must have adequate protection for everyone inside and outside the vehicle, and at least some safety assist technology.

Technologies to look for when buying a car Down arrow icon to open accordion

The following technologies are assessed by Euro NCAP in their safety assist category. These are active safety technologies which are designed to help prevent crashes from happening. When choosing a car, check to see if it has these safety assist technologies included.

Check out EuroNCAP's information on vehicle safety assist technologies, here, to find out more.

Motorcyclists and vehicle occupant safety

Some vehicle types are inherently more risky than others for their riders or occupants. For example, the rate of death on the road, per mile, for motorcyclists is more than 50 times that for car drivers. This is partly because motorcyclists lack the protection of a vehicle around them, as well as other factors that cause these crashes, such as drivers often not spotting motorcyclists at junctions, and some motorcyclists taking risks like riding at high speed.

Drivers of other vehicles should therefore take great care to look out for motorcyclists and other vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. Motorcyclists should also take all possible precautions such as wearing full protective clothing and helmets, and riding slowly, well within speed limits, and avoiding overtaking.

SUVs and safety for people outside of a vehicle

Some vehicle types are inherently more risky for people outside of the vehicle. For example, larger cars such as sports utility vehicles (SUVs, often referred to as 4x4s) cause much more damage if they hit someone. This is because SUVs are generally heavier and stiffer than normal cars, and therefore cause more damage on impact and are also taller, meaning that pedestrians hit by SUVs are more likely to suffer head or chest injuries, which are more likely to be fatal.

Large vehicles, like SUVs, also have bigger blind spots, so drivers are more likely to fail to see vulnerable road users, particularly children who are smaller and harder to spot.

New vehicles and safety improvement

Newer vehicles are less likely to be involved in fatal crashes, due to continual improvements in crash protection features. Mechanical defects also become more common as a vehicle ages, further compromising the safety of the vehicle. Brake therefore advises anyone using a vehicle to choose the newest and safest they can afford.

Did you know that the average UK car is
8 years old...
In general, newer vehicles are safer vehicles.

Choosing not to drive

Driving a motor vehicle of any type is increasingly costly, as well as being damaging to the environment and contributing to road danger and congestion.

Minimising the amount you drive, or choosing not to drive at all, and getting about by public transport, walking, or cycling, can have all sorts of positive benefits for you, your community and the planet.