Technical Safety Saves Lives

12 May 2022 Vehicle Technology

The potential for accidents, which is especially high when people first start driving, can be reduced by making use of vehicle technology. One aspect that is crucial to achieving this is the continual advancement in digitalizing vehicle drives in combination with control equipment. Because of this, the systems that are installed should definitely not feature any serious defects or impermissible changes to the design and should be working flawlessly. DEKRA has proven how important this is in several road tests, with striking results. In the future, systems such as the automatic speed limiter could also reduce the risk of accidents. After all, excessive speed, or speed that is not appropriately adapted to the situation at hand, is one of the main causes of accidents for young drivers.

Owning your first car: long yearned for as a symbol of reaching adulthood, the embodiment of achieving autonomous mobility at long last and, in many countries, an outward sign of being of legal age. The needs and desires of young novice drivers are wide-ranging and there are models and equipment variants on offer to satisfy just about everything that can be thought up. That is, were it not for the purchase price, follow-up costs and, often, the ground rules set by parents. It is clear that where the driver lives and the intended use are important factors in the choice of vehicle. Novice drivers in urban areas who mainly travel short distances and do not have their own parking space, may use a different type of vehicle compared to novice drives of the same age who live in rural areas and need the car for their daily 30 kilometer trip to and from their educational institution.
Besides where the driver lives, personal preferences also factor into the decision-making process. Whether it has to be sporty or cute, it’s essential that it’s red and shiny, or it has to have at least 95 kW and a Bluetooth interface, these issues play just as much of a role as an individual’s attitude towards sustainability and safety. Also, only very few young novice drivers can afford a brand new vehicle, and often there is no second car available to borrow from the parents. Because of this, the choice is often limited to cheaper, older minicompacts or subcompacts. But this exact combination can lead to a number of weak points in terms of safety – even more so for those who took their driving lessons in comparatively new passenger cars of a high technical standard. According to information from the European Driving Schools Association, there are major differences between countries when it comes to this.



In keeping with the objective of this report, a few factors should be examined in more detail at this point, which, from the point of view of road safety, must be taken into account when choosing a vehicle, especially for young novice drivers. Good all-round visibility – supplemented when necessary with parking sensors or a vehicle backup camera – can significantly reduce the risk of collisions when parking and pulling out. The smallest possible turning circle with a short vehicle length in total can reduce stress when looking for parking spaces and parking.
Above all, good brakes contribute significantly to avoiding accidents or, at the very least, to mitigating their consequences. Independent vehicle tests show time and time again that there are even significant differences in this regard between new vehicles. The condition of the brakes also plays an important role in used vehicles. Both should be considered when buying a vehicle. However, even the best brakes are useless if you skimp on the tires. Tires that are too old or worn-out, cheap, poor-quality tires, wheel/tire combinations that do not match the vehicle and mixing tires can all have an extremely negative impact on driving dynamics and braking behavior and can also lead to accidents. The same applies to lowering that does not match the vehicle and poorly tuned lowering or other chassis modifications.
If the vehicle has to be personalized, this should be not be at the cost of safety. The reliability of vehicles usually plays an important role in the decision to buy them. Electronic systems are repeatedly mentioned as a source of error, with downtimes and high repair costs. However, this just not lead to a rejection of electronic driver assistance and safety systems. The ESP, or electronic stability program, is a must-have for any novice driver. Blind spot assistants, lane departure warning systems, traffic sign recognition and systems that warn you if you are approaching another vehicle too closely are currently not installed in numerous small cars on the used car market, but are definitely worth considering when buying a vehicle. It is also worth taking a closer look at the lighting. Xenon and LED headlights have also been available in the small car sector for some time, as have adaptive lighting systems. They offer young novice drivers in particular increased safety, especially if they often travel in rural areas. A highbeam assistant helps ensure that the high beams are always switched on whenever possible. Especially on curved stretches, having to switch to low beams while turning the steering wheel when oncoming traffic suddenly appears can lead to stressful situations or unintended steering motions for inexperienced drivers.
Small dents and scratches cannot always be avoided, but they reduce the price and make these types of vehicles attractive for novice drivers on a tight budget. Caution is advised, however, if the vehicle exhibits considerable rust marks or has damage from an accident that has not been repaired properly. Both of these can have a significant impact on passenger safety in the event of an accident. Repairs that are not carried out professionally can also have a negative impact on driving behavior and thus increase the risk of accidents. If in doubt, it is better to stay away from it or have the vehicle assessed by an independent expert.


Before making their final choice of a model, it is particularly important for young novice drivers to test drive as many different vehicles as possible. This is the only way to find out which vehicle you feel comfortable in and which you do not, which features you find helpful and which control concepts are confusing. Feeling comfortable in a vehicle is more important than the design or preferred brand. Consumer protection tests from the respective regional "New Car Assessment Program" (NCAP) also provide important information about the safety of a vehicle. For many years now, safety-related aspects have been rated in this program with up to five stars. However it is important to note that these programs are also evolving and so the ratings of vehicles which were manufactured in different years are not necessarily comparable. Also, when buying a car, the last vehicle inspection should not have been too long ago.