Before the 1960s, car manufacturers did little to advertise car safety features such as seatbelts fearing they would send a negative message. Even as the manufacturers continued to develop more car safety features, they resisted prominently marketing them to the public.
However, in recent years, more people have been interested in learning how cars can make their lives easier.
As a result, more manufacturers advertise car safety features, performance, and improved technology, as well as features such as fuel economy, which help users save money.
Since the advent of advertising these car safety features, manufacturers are going out of their way to develop more ways to keep drivers safer on the roads.
There are car safety features such as airbags that save lives and others such as automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning systems that help drivers avoid accidents.
Are Car Safety Features Worth It?
Automakers are keen on reducing traffic fatalities. Some companies, such as General Motors, are working towards “a world with zero crashes.” Nissan is also working hard to develop next-generation technology to keep motorists and pedestrians safe.
The NHTSA estimates that there is a 10.5% surge in traffic fatalities which is the fastest on record. With over 40,000 fatalities annually on American roads, improved car safety features are a welcome development.
Amidst a national crisis of fatal car accidents, policymakers and car companies are called upon to make more efforts to keep road users safe.
However, there is always the question of some advanced driver assistance systems getting touted as safety features while they are little more than convenience add-ons.
For instance, lane keep assist has been questioned as a safety feature, with critics viewing it more as a driver convenience add-on. However, car safety features are indeed designed to assist the driver.
The numerous safety features we have today are designed to have human management. Do not rely on these features to keep you safe, as technology cannot compensate for reckless driving. While some ease the burden of driving, most are designed to prevent imminent crashes.
Most car safety features are not reliable enough to manage a car independently, and they remain a work in progress. However, as a driver, you must be more careful not to overestimate your car’s safety features’ capabilities. Always stay alert.
Everything You Need to Know About Car Safety Features
So, what are some of the car safety features that you need to be aware of? Let us find out:
Airbags have been a standard addition in all cars since 1998. The crash sensors connected to your car’s onboard computer trigger deployment when they detect a frontal collision. The airbags inflate within milliseconds protecting you against the impact of forceful contact with the dashboard or steering wheel.
However, airbags have also been known to cause injuries and even fatalities in children and occupants who are not wearing a seatbelt at the time of impact.
All children under 12 should sit in the rear in the appropriate restraint systems. If you use a rear-facing child seat, always install it in the back seat.
Most airbags have now been adapted to detect the driver and front passenger’s weight, presence, and seat position. They deactivate or de-power as appropriate to reduce the chances of injury.
Newer car models also feature side airbags, torso-protecting side-impact airbags, and side-curtain airbags. According to the IIHS, front-facing airbags have reduced driver fatalities from frontal crashes by 29% and 32% for passengers.
Since 2000, it has been mandatory for all passenger cars to have antilock brakes. Hard braking locks up the wheels, preventing them from turning.
As a result, the front tires slide along the road, making it difficult to steer, which can cause serious accidents.
ABS uses sensors on each wheel to prevent lock-up. The driver retains control of the car and can maneuver it around obstacles. ABS actuation conveys a chattering at the wheels and a pulsing sensation through the brake pedal.
If using ABS, push on the pedals with force and allow the system to work.
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Electronic Stability Control
Electronic stability control has been mandatory in all passenger cars since 2012. It uses independent 4-wheel braking and ABS sensors to keep the car going in the direction the driver is steering. It relies on both ABS and traction control to keep motorists safe.
Stability control also uses additional sensors to measure the steering angle and sideways motion. This system remains functional if the car follows the driver’s steering input.
Stability control utilizes traction control and ABS to restore the vehicle to the intended motion if the vehicle does not follow steering inputs.
While the system is not 100% reliable, it can help keep your car on track by applying brakes to specific wheels or modulating engine speed.
Safety belts have been a standard requirement for all vehicles since 1968. The 3-point seat belt is considered the most effective. NHTSA reports that safety belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 50%.
Modern seat belts allow you the freedom of movement but cinch tightly immediately upon frontal impact. They also hold you to your seat in anticipation of airbag deployment. Most seatbelts are height-adjustable, providing more comfort to shorter drivers.
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Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH)
LATCH is designed to make child-seat installation more secure. All vehicles are required to have it starting in 2002. This system simplifies the installation of child seats and eliminates the incompatibilities and challenges of safety belts.
The bottom seat cushion features a lower bar that is used as an anchor for the clips on the bottom of the safety belt. At the top, tethers clip onto the tether anchors that come with the LATCH system.
LATCH creates a more secure platform and is user-friendly, which encourages the use of child safety seats.
Collision Safety Features
Thanks to cutting-edge technology, these driver aids are designed with the vision of futuristic, fully self-driving vehicles. While we are still decades away from the technology itself, these collision safety features offer numerous benefits to today’s drivers.
When combined, some of these safety collision features create remarkable advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). Some features in this category include:
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Brake assist
- Forward collision warning
- Lane-centering assist
- Lane departure warning
- Lane-keeping assist
- Lane-tracing assist
- Rear automatic emergency braking.
- Pedestrian detection
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Semi-autonomous driving
- Speed control safety features
- Adaptive cruise control
- Automatic emergency braking
- Traffic-sign recognition
- Parking assist systems
- Rain sensor wipers
- Rear occupant alert
- Driver attention monitor
- Active head restaurants
- Backup camera
- Tire pressure monitors
Car Safety Features: A Summary
Nearly all vehicles on the road today have some type of safety feature to keep motorists and other road users safe. You may know some of them, but with this list, you can look closely at how some of the modern features work.
We rely on car safety features to protect us from fatal car accidents. However, these safety features are not a substitute for reckless behavior on the road. We recommend staying alert when driving and keeping your eyes on the road.
Do not drive when tired. If you drive long distances frequently, use car safety features such as the driver attention monitor. This system uses a camera with sensors and LED detectors to track alertness through eye movements. The system issues an audio or visual warning when it determines alertness is waning.
There are numerous safety features for each driver’s needs on the market. If you are unsure which safety features are best for you, do some research and talk to a professional before making a purchase.