Tonight, curl up with a good owner”s handbook

07 April 2004 #SMMT News

SMMT today urged motorists to spend a few minutes learning about their car’s safety systems, by reading the owner’s manual. The advice coincides with World Health Day which takes place on 7 April and this year has road safety as its theme.

While statistics continue to show a decline in deaths on UK roads1, SMMT believes more accidents could be prevented if all owners were fully familiar with the safety features installed in their cars.

Chief executive Christopher Macgowan explained, ‘Every death and serious injury on our roads is a tragedy and of course manufacturers have a central role to play in improving the safety of products. But equally, owners need to understand how the advanced safety systems of modern vehicles work in order to get maximum benefit – and to minimise any risk of their misuse.

‘The owner’s manual should not be something that sits in the glove box from purchase till sale. Our message for World Health Day is simple – get it out and have a good read.’

From 1 July 2004 all new production cars must be fitted with ABS as standard. Understanding how Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) work could mean more drivers’ lives are saved by this important safety feature.

Mr Macgowan added, ‘The fact is that most drivers never experience ABS except in a real emergency. A pulsing pedal and unfamiliar noise could tempt some to release pressure on the brakes. A quick glance in the handbook, however, explains exactly how ABS works and reminds drivers to keep the pressure on while steering safely round a hazard.’

Front, side and head airbags increasingly feature on new vehicles and are helping limit the effects of an impact on occupants. However, while airbags offer real safety benefits, owner’s handbooks warn against placing objects on or adjacent to these systems as these can become dangerous projectiles in an accident.

Regularly checking things like oil levels, water and washer fluid is not just about keeping your car moving – it’s important safety advice too. One of the most important regular checks is tyre condition and pressures, as worn and incorrectly pressured tyres are two of the biggest causes of tyre blow-out.

According to Thatcham research, more than 200,000 people suffer whiplash each year, with 2,000 cases resulting in some form of permanent disability. Most could be prevented if drivers and their passengers took a few seconds to make a minor adjustment to their head restraints, advice clearly set out in handbooks and available from your local franchised dealer.

Notes to editors:

  1. Since 1972, the number of road deaths have dropped by 55.8 per cent while the number of cars on Great Britain’s roads has increased by 57 per cent.

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