Mike Stevens | Jul 5, 2010

New research by national insurer AAMI shows that young male drivers aged 18 to 24 years-old are among those more likely to drive aggressively if their car is fitted with more safety features.

Surveying 2818 motorists across all age groups, around 16 percent (one-in-six) of respondents in the male 18-24 group saw additional safety features as a licence to push the limits of what their vehicle could handle.

“Thankfully, most motorists recognise that while vehicle safety features can provide valuable extra protection in an emergency situation, they aren’t an excuse for reckless behaviour behind the wheel," AAMI spokesperson Mike Sopinski said.

Averaged across all driver age groups, only 5% of drivers nationally said they would drive more aggressively because their car had added safety features – although the figure does rise among young male drivers."

He added that, on a more positive note, safety features such as ABS, pre-tensioning seatbelts and airbags continue to be among the top priorities for new car buyers.

The research showed that 64 percent of respondents consider driver and front seat airbags and ABS were the most essential features, with pre-tensioning seatbelts a high-ranking factor for 61 percent of motorists.

Emergency brake-assist technology also ranked highly at 55 percent, followed by traction control with 50 percent.

Other vehicle safety features which were rated extremely important by Australian motorists included electronic stability control (44%) and active head rests (43%).

AAMI’s research also showed that added safety features could have a positive impact on drivers’ attitudes behind the wheel.

“Almost half of drivers surveyed (46%) said they drove more confidently because their car had added safety features,” Mr Sopinski said.

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