Canadian Underwriter

Campaign on vehicle safety features launched after poll suggests most Canadians don’t fully understand them

February 4, 2013   by Canadian Underwriter

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The Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) and the Toyota Canada Foundation have launched a new education program to teach the public more about vehicle safety features, as the groups suggest that only a third of Canadians understand how such features really work.

Collision“Cars today are equipped with more safety features than ever before. Knowing more about them is an important part of making the most of your car’s safety features,” Stephen Beatty, director of the Toyota Canada Foundation noted in a public statement. “We want to empower Canadians to learn more about how their cars work and to use that knowledge every time they get behind the wheel.”

Dubbed Brain on Board, the program includes a website that aims to dispel myths about safety features and teach Canadians more about them, in the hopes of reducing collisions overall. The site uses tools such as plain language descriptions of common safety features, details about the human factors that contribute to safe driving, and other educational materials.

“If a driver is unfamiliar with how a car’s safety features work – or even what certain dashboard symbols mean – there may be more safety benefits that could be realized,” Robyn Robertson, TIRF president and CEO said. “Brain on Board is about making it simple for people to find information about the safety features and human factors that contribute to safer driving.”

As a lead-up to the initiative, a national research initiative, Vehicle Safety Features: Knowledge, Perceptions, and Driving Habits, led by TIRF and funded by the Toyota Canada Foundation asked 2,506 Canadians from across the country 120 questions to assess knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions of vehicle safety and safety features, and the impact these have on driving habits.

“Canadian drivers believe they are safer drivers than others on the road,” Robertson said. This leads to a false belief that the risk of driver safety sits with ‘others’ and not with ‘me’.”

When asked about their own driving in terms of safety, the majority of drivers rated themselves 8 out of 10 while rating their fellow motorists 5 out of 10.

“It is important that we all take the time to understand how our vehicles work before we get behind the wheel. Increased knowledge of safety features can have a positive impact on driver safety as drivers become more familiar with proper use,” Robertson added.  

Additional highlights from the study include:

  • When purchasing a vehicle, safety (15.6%) is a top priority for Canadians ranking second behind price (29%) and ahead of fuel consumption (13.2%) and reliability (6.1%).
  • With the exception of ABS and traction control, less than one third of Canadian drivers were familiar with various other modern safety features such as adaptive headlights and collision warning systems. Despite this lack of awareness, the majority report they believe safety features would be easy to use.
  • When asked about the different safety features, a majority of Canadians drivers said they would use them if their vehicle had them.