Most Canadians still have limited familiarity with several vehicle safety features

Ottawa, ON (Aug. 30, 2013) – A new poll by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation reveals that some groups of Canadians continue to be less aware of the existence or the functioning of vehicle safety features. In a follow-up survey to the 2011 public survey, Vehicle Safety Features: Knowledge, Perceptions, and Driving Habits, an October 2012 public opinion poll investigated Canadians’ familiarity with and understanding of the safety features available in modern vehicles.

In a new Road Safety Monitor (RSM) report by TIRF, Canadians were asked to rate their familiarity with six (6) different vehicle safety features, brake override, electronic break force distribution (EBFD), brake assist (BA), electronic stability control (ESC), traction control (TC) and anti-lock braking systems (ABS). Researchers found that the majority of Canadians continue to have limited familiarity with several vehicle safety features, with the exception of ABS and TC. In fact the percentage of Canadians who said they were familiar with all other safety features remained below 35%.

“Many of these technologies are rapidly becoming standard on newer vehicles across the automotive industry mainly because research shows they increase driver safety,” explains Ward Vanlaar, TIRF’s Vice-President Research. “The benefits of safety features, however, cannot be fully realized until drivers understand their function and are able to operate the vehicle in a safe manner by interacting appropriately with them.”

In the follow-up survey, researchers also looked to identify specific groups of road users who are more likely than others to be familiar with vehicle safety features – e.g., males and those who reported driving more kilometers per month. This also means that some groups are less aware of the existence or the functioning of such features.

“Knowledge gaps among road users can erode the potential benefits of safety features,” notes Vanlaar. “These results from the RSM speak to the need for more awareness and education among varied groups of road users to increase their familiarity with the benefits and limitations of various safety features and how these features are linked to safe driving practices.”

In January 2013, TIRF launched “Brain on Board”, an educational program designed to inform all road users about the potential benefits and limitations of vehicle safety features, and the safe driving behaviours that enable drivers to gain the most protection from these features in all types of road conditions. Using plain language and relatable driving scenarios, Canadian drivers can learn more about safety features, how they work, and the types of road conditions when they provide the greatest benefit. For more information, visit

About the Poll

These results are based on the RSM, an annual public opinion poll developed and conducted by TIRF. A total of 903 Canadians completed the poll in October of 2012. Results can be considered accurate within plus or minus 3.3%, 19 times out of 20. For the third time, some respondents were contacted by phone and some online. The RSM was made possible by financial support from the Brewers Association of Canada, Toyota Canada Foundation, and Aviva Canada.

For the fifth year in a row, the poll also included a closer examination of regional drinking and driving attitudes and behaviours. Both the regional and national reports are available on TIRF’s website.

About Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF)

Established in 1964, TIRF’s mission is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. As a national, independent, charitable road safety institute, TIRF designs, promotes, and implements effective programs and policies, based on sound research. TIRF is a registered charity and depends on grants, contracts, and donations to provide services for the public. Visit us online at

SOURCE: Traffic Injury Research Foundation