Car Safety Features Explained
Safety features in cars are always improving. In 2004, the average new car safety rating was 4 stars and rose to 4.5 stars by 2009. Newer cars usually perform a lot better in crashes. People who were involved in serious crashes in cars manufactured between 2003 and 2005 are on average around 45% less likely to experience significant road trauma than those in cars manufactured in 1980.
Today, the essential safety features include:
• Electronic stability control (ESC) to help maintain control of the car when avoiding hazards
• Curtain airbags for side body and head protection
• Auto emergency braking (AEB) to avoid or reduce the severity of rear end crashes.
• Structural Integrity that withstands and channels crash forces away from occupants.
• Seat Belt pre-tensioners that help prevent or manage the forces of impact.
When shopping for a car, consumers may notice that many dealers and online sources provide information on certain vehicle safety features. However, they may find themselves asking, “What do these elaborate safety terms mean?” This is a common question that confronts many car buyers.
In order to help you get a better understanding of what these terms mean, and to help you optimize the safety features of your car, here’s a comprehensive, easy-to-understand car safety features list.
Car Safety Features List
• Active braking systems – Car brakes on its own in order to prevent imminent crash.
• Adaptive/autonomous cruise control – Maintains a safe distance between your car and the car in front of you by controlling distance and speed in relation to the preceding vehicle.
• Adaptive headlamps – Headlights that adjust the direction and range of light beams to coincide with driving patterns, maximizing visibility without blinding other drivers.
• Anti-lock braking system (ABS) – Controls skidding or sliding of your car by preventing wheels from locking-up, or ceasing motion. Varied brake pressure is applied to allow wheels to gain back traction with the road while continuing to brake.
• Anti-roll/stabilizer bars – This function balances the weight of the car to provide better control and handling during turns.
• Automated parking system – The ability of a car to parallel or angle-park automatically, using sensory and motion detectors.
• Blind spot warning system – Assists drivers in effectively managing blind spots by detecting the distance to and speed of objects in neighboring lanes, and alerts drivers of possible collision when changing lanes.
• Brake assist system – Car senses emergency braking and provides additional braking pressure to the car.
• Cargo barriers – Physical barriers placed in between passengers and the cargo department that protect passengers from potential unsecured cargo movement.
• Chassis control – Assists control of everyday car functions like braking, steering, and suspension to improve safety and comfort while driving.
• Curtain airbags – Airbags that deploy from the ceiling and upper-sides of the car to protect passengers’ heads in event of a crash. Most effective in the case of rollover crashes.
• Deformation zones – Features of the car purposed to deform in a way that absorbs the impact energy of a crash in order to protect the driver and passengers.
• Driver attention detection – If there are recognizable signs of drowsiness or difficulty paying attention in the driver, these systems can detect those signs and either take control of the vehicle or warn drivers of their inability to pay attention.
• Electronic stability control – Vehicle applies automatic brake pressure to individual wheels to steer the car in the event that the driver loses control, guiding the car back on to its intended path.
• Fog lamps – Headlights that are shaped with the ability to provide enhanced visual clarity in times of low visibility − like fog, heavy rain or snow.
• Forward collision warning – Detects a possible crash, and gives drivers warning of takes automatic action to avoid the collision. Also known as a pre-crash safety system.
• Front airbags – Airbags located in the steering wheel or dashboard region that function to prevent severe impact of passengers with the front of the car.
• Good visibility from the driver’s seat – Ample window and mirror visibility for the driver.
• Head restraints – Head rests in both front and back seats of the car provide proper head support in order to prevent passenger whiplash.
• Head-up display – Car display functions that can be seen by the driver without having to lower their eyes from the road. Typically projected onto the windshield or visor so the driver can easily view them.
• Infrared night vision – Headlight systems that increase visual clarity beyond typical headlight range.
• Intelligent speed assist – Technology that prevents drivers from exceeding safe speed limits, by providing visual warning signals or increasing difficulty in pushing against the accelerator.
• Laminated glass – Safety glass used in windshields and windows that holds together when shattered.
• Lane keeping assist – Provides warning signs or drive assist if drivers leave the road or change lanes without indication.
• Passenger safety cell – Functional strengthening and stiffening of the space around the passenger seating areas in order to help absorb the impact of a crash, and provide extra protection for passengers.
• Reversing camera – Provides a camera image of potential blind spots behind the vehicle in order to assist driver visibility when reversing.
• Seat belt pre-tensioner – Provides automatic response to body motion with tightening and loosening of seat belts to protect occupants from harsh movements in the event of a crash.
• Side-impact bars – Durable bars and rods placed in car doors to limit passenger impact and provide additional protection.
• Thorax airbags with head detection – Protect both head and body in a crash. Most effective for side impact crashes.
• Three-point seat belts – Both in the back and front seats of a car, seat belts with three points (extending from the shoulder to both sides of the waist), aim to provide more support than two-point belts (only extending over the lap).
• Tire pressure monitor – Warning signal that your car’s tires are under inflated.
• Traction control system – Prevents loss of wheel traction with the road during acceleration by managing wheel rotation and decreasing speed.
All of these features work together to avoid collisions and help protect you if a crash does occur. To help you better understand these safety features and how well different cars protect you in a crash have a look at the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).
ANCAP is Australasia's leading independent vehicle safety advocate that provides consumers with independent vehicle safety information through the publication of ANCAP safety ratings. ANCAP safety ratings take into account the level of occupant and pedestrian protection provided by new cars through the conduct of physical crash tests and the assessment of collision avoidance technologies. To help you understanding how cars are tested and assessed take a look at the safety ratings provided by the ANCAP Safety Rating Process and Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR).
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