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Most crash injuries happen when you collide with something inside your car, such as the steering wheel or door. Improving interior safety reduces the chance of serious injury.

There is a range of interior features you can check for when making your next vehicle purchase. While vehicle manufacturers are required to include some of these features to meet the minimum standards required of new cars, the provision of others is optional.

Minimum standards for new cars

By law, new cars must meet minimum standards, which include:

  • energy-absorbing padding on the dashboard, door panels, roof, sun visors, mirrors, header rail and pillars. These features should have no sharp edges underneath
  • a minimum of jutting objects and hard edges
  • interior fittings, controls and surfaces that comply with safety standards from the country of manufacture
  • the presence of safety-enhancing features in addition to safety belts and airbags - such as collapsible steering columns and knee bolsters.

Safety features

Knee bolsters

A knee bolster is a crushable barrier under the dashboard that stops your knees from striking hard surfaces during a crash, reducing the likelihood of serious leg injuries.'Deployable' knee bolsters are basically airbags for the knees.

Restraint control module (RCM)

A restraint control module is the computer that controls the release and timing of your car's different protection features, such as safety belt technology and airbags. When it detects a crash, the RCM triggers these features in a certain order.The RCM can also record the vehicle speed and deceleration of the crash, the firing times of the restraints systems and whether belts were worn. It could also provide signals to trigger emergency intelligent transport systems to summon help.

Collapsible steering columns

Collapsible steering columns 'fold' under impact to prevent injuries to the driver in a crash. This is a key way of keeping the driver safe, even in cars fitted with airbags. Steering wheels, along with all other features inside a car, should be covered with energy-absorbing padding to minimise harm to the driver in a crash.