Less than one-third of Canadian drivers familiar with common vehicle safety features

Although consumers identify safety as a priority when purchasing a new car, the majority of Canadians reportedly have limited awareness of how vehicle safety features work. In an effort to change that, the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) and the Toyota Canada Foundation today launched Brain on Board, a public education program to engage Canadians to learn more about modern vehicle safety features, dispelling myths about how they work and reminding drivers that know more about their vehicle’s safety technology will help them to be safer drivers.

“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,” said Stephen Beatty, Director, Toyota Canada Foundation. “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.”

Brain on Board is designed to engage drivers, helping them learn more about modern safety features, what these technologies can and cannot do and how knowledgeable drivers can make the most of them. Through this program, the Toyota Canada Foundation and TIRF hope to reduce accidents by encouraging smarter driving habits across Canada.

“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,” said Robyn Robertson, TIRF President and CEO. “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.”

At www.brainonboard.ca Canadians will find a variety of easy to use tools ranging from plain language descriptions of common safety features, details about the human factors that contribute to safe driving and other educational materials.

The foundation for Brain on Board is a national research initiative, Vehicle Safety Features: Knowledge, Perceptions, and Driving Habits, led by TIRF and funded by the Toyota Canada Foundation. The largest study of its kind in Canada, the researchers 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.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Robyn Robertson, TIRF President and CEO noted, “Canadian drivers believe they are safer drivers than others on the road. 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 Canada drivers rated themselves 8/10 while rating their fellow motorists 5/10.

“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,” added Robertson.

Following are additional highlights from the study:

· Safety is a top priority: When purchasing a vehicle, safety (15.6 per cent) is a top priority for Canadians ranking second behind price (29 per cent) and ahead of fuel consumption (13.2 per cent) and reliability (6.1 per cent).

· Canadians are not familiar with the majority of safety features: 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.

· Knowing about safety features makes for safer drivers: When asked about the different safety features, a majority of Canadians drivers said they would use them if their vehicle had them.

“Drivers need to understand their safety features so they can make the best use of these technologies. At the end of the day, it is a combination of the car’s features and having an alert and skilled driver behind the wheel that gives us the best chance to drive safety,” added Robertson.