The safety features in a car have evolved over the years. These features ensure the safety of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Apart from the standard features that cars offer, latest models offer a variety of safety features as well. Although these features are not present in all cars, having them in your vehicle can mean the difference between life and death.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that fatal motor vehicle accidents in 2018 have reduced 1% from 2017. One reason is that more cars have standard safety features than before.
Hence, when you plan on purchasing a car, you must be aware of the safety features. Older models do not have the requisite features installed. When you buy or lease an automobile, knowing which safety features are present and what features you are paying for, helps you perform a cost-benefit analysis as well. So you don’t end up wasting money needlessly. Hence, a little knowledge of safety features is beneficial in the long run.
Basic safety features
Since the 80s, the standard for safety features has changed significantly. In 1984, a seatbelt was compulsory. From there onwards, more safety features were added to cars to prevent the loss of life in car accidents. Nowadays, all vehicles come with the following safety features:
The 3-point seat belt is the standard, in which the straps go over the shoulder and the lap to minimize the chances of a severe impact. Compared with the 2-point seat belt (which only goes over the lap), the 3-point seatbelt offers more protection in car crashes. An added feature in seatbelts is pretension, which holds the driver in position. So in case of a car crash, the driver does not have room to move and hurt himself. The pretension retracts to tighten the grip on the passenger. Many seatbelts also have adjustable anchors that prevent neck injuries if a car crash occurs.
Apart from the standard front airbags, most car models have side, rear, and knee airbags installed as well. The air front airbag is present in the driver’s wheel and deploys to protect the driver from impact against the steering wheel. The sensors detect the severity of the crash; the controller then sends commands to deploy the airbag.
Side airbags are present in the rear and front seat for the passenger and the driver. These are small cushions that inflate and prevent the passenger from getting thrown out of the vehicle if the car rolls over. In addition to a side airbag for the rear passengers, rear center airbags are also present in some automobiles. It prevents passengers from colliding against one another. Knee airbags are under the steering wheel and the glove compartment to protect the driver from knee injuries.
LATCH (Lower Anchor and Tethers for Children)
To install a child’s car seat, the LATCH is a standard for vehicles. The LATCH consists of lower anchors in the rear seat and tethers at the back. The u-shaped bars of the lower anchors connect to the hooks of the car seat. In addition to this, the hook of the car seat also connects to the tethers. In the US, all cars must have at least two lower anchors and three tether anchors.
Antilock Brake System
When a brake is suddenly applied, the Antilock Brake System prevents them from locking. If the brakes are locked, it stops the wheels from turning. It prevents the vehicle from braking and steering. Hence, ABS is a safety feature present in all cars. ABS consists of sensors on each wheel, which determine the speed and sends this information to the control unit. The control unit prevents locking by maximizing the braking action.
Traction control prevents a car from sliding on slippery surfaces. It uses the same vehicle speed sensors used in ABS. The control unit determines if the speed of all the wheels is the same. If it is not, it reduces power to the wheel. Some vehicles with traction control use brakes to reduce speed. In the case of snow, if you accelerate the wheels, the wheel spins, but the automobile does not move forward. Hence, traction control reduces the speed of the wheel so that the vehicle moves.
The difference between ABS and traction control is that ABS helps in slowing down the car, while the traction control is present for acceleration.
Electronic Stability Control
Each automaker has its name for the Electronic Stability Control system. BMW calls it Dynamic Stability Control; Ford calls it AdvanceTrac, while Honda calls it Vehicle Stability Assist. No matter what you call it, it performs the same function and involves the same technology.
The electronic stability control works with ABS and traction control. If the ESC detects that the vehicle is not steering enough, it springs into action. The Electronic Stability Control detects the difference between the driver’s intended course and where the car is headed. It brakes one of the wheels so that the vehicle continues on the path that the driver wants.
An Electric Stability Control uses three types of sensors: wheel-speed sensors, steering angle sensors, and rotational speed sensors.
Advanced Safety Features
Over the last couple of years, automakers are installing advanced safety features which makes driving a smooth and safer experience for the driver. Although these features are not the standard and are not present in most cars, people prefer them because of the convenience they offer.
Some of the advanced safety features found in cars are given as follows:
Forward Collision Warning: FCW gives a visual or audio warning to prevent a collision. The sensors or cameras detect any vehicle or obstacle that might be too close to the vehicle. Pedestrian detection also uses the FCW.
Automatic Emergency Braking: AEB comes into action if the FCW detects a vehicle or obstacle in front and automatically brakes the car without assistance from the driver. This feature prevents a car crash if the driver does not react in time.
Adaptive Cruise Control: ACC maintains the vehicle’s speed, automatically. It controls the speed and keeps a safe distance from the vehicle in front. Some enhanced versions of ACC brake the car if the vehicle in the front comes to a stop.
Blind-spot warning: Sensors in the rear of the vehicle give audio or visual alerts if a car is present in your blind spot.
Lane Keep Assist: LKA keeps the vehicle in its lane by detecting the road markings. The steering input brings the car back in the lane.
Lane Departure Warning: A visual or audio warning system turns on if the car escapes the lane markings.
Parking Assist: Sensors present in the front and the rear of the car help detect objects surrounding the vehicle to help the driver park the car safely.
Rear-view Camera: Helps the driver reverse by providing a visual display. A camera in the rear of the car connects to a display console in the car.
Advanced safety features prevent car crashes and fatal accidents by reducing human errors. Moreover, sensors and electronic systems prevent accidents by taking actions quickly, without letting human reaction time causing delays.