Vehicle security features once consisted of fastening your seatbelt and checking the St. Christopher medal on your rearview mirror before hoping for the best. But now vehicles come equipped with cutting-edge technologies designed to prevent accidents and injuries.
Blind spot detection systems help ensure you make safe lane changes by giving you visual or audible warning when another vehicle enters your blind spot.
Cars traditionally feature a simple locking system to prevent them from starting without an active driver present, providing some protection from theft but easily breached by thieves.
Child safety locks prevent rear seat passengers from opening doors during transit and while stopped, by blocking interior door handles. Most locks require a code to disable.
Driver Attention Monitors are devices designed to track eye movement and head position to detect when you become distracted while providing visual or audible warnings when necessary. Furthermore, these monitors connect into advanced driver aids such as ACC and Lane Keeping Assist systems for further assistance.
A crumple zone is a key component of modern cars, designed to minimize car accidents and injuries by absorbing impact force. Today’s crumple zones consist of a rigid high-tensile steel cabin for passenger protection as well as an accordion-like structure that collapses upon collision.
Force of impact is dispersed over a longer duration and reduced before reaching passengers, like how a soda can crumples. This prevents sudden decelerations of vehicle and reduces excess force on passengers.
Seat belts connect your body mass to that of the car, so when it accelerates or decelerates, so do you. They offer protection by spreading out force over strong parts of the body rather than in one concentrated impact point.
Modern safety belts incorporate devices like web clamps to maintain tight webbing, force limiters to reduce chest injuries, crash tensioners that quickly retract during frontal crashes to take up any slack in the belt, and crash tensioners which position occupants for optimal use of an airbag deployment.
Drivers who use their seat belts are 30 times less likely to be ejected during a crash and GEICO offers great discounts for safe drivers.
Airbags are gas-filled cushions designed to cushion drivers and passengers during a collision, deployed quickly thanks to crash sensors and Newton’s second law of motion (F=ma).
Front airbags have become standard equipment in passenger cars since 1998 and are also common on light trucks and SUVs. Some airbags even include additional safety features like weight sensors to detect children or unbelted adults in the front seat.
Airbags are considered supplemental restraint systems and work best in tandem with seat belts. Their “hidden” compartment contains chemical propellants and initiator devices which activate when sensors sense a collision; rapidly filling with nitrogen gas within milliseconds of being activated, the airbag rapidly inflates.
Anti-lock Braking System
ABS helps keep your wheels from locking up during hard stops by monitoring wheel speed using sensors, then automatically pumping brakes up to 20 times per second.
On certain road surfaces such as gravel or deep snow, ABS may increase braking distances as locked-up wheels dig into and slow your car. However, it still maintains your ability to steer the vehicle.
ABS makes your vehicle safer, but complicates accident investigations as its skid marks tend to be temporary and nondescriptive. Until techniques have been developed to make them more visible, it’s wise not to rely on them alone when trying to establish cause of accidents.
Electronic Stability Control
ESC is one of the few car safety systems that works to both prevent and mitigate crashes rather than only protecting after they have taken place, like airbags or antilock brakes do. It does this by decreasing vehicle slipperiness when encountering poor road conditions like icy roadways or when taking curves too rapidly.
As part of its function, it uses several sensors that constantly measure your steering angle and rotational speed. If a computer detects that your steering angle doesn’t correspond with where you are traveling, it may brake one or more wheels or reduce engine power in order to help you remain in control of your car.