4 Car Safety Features – Crash Protection
Have you ever thought that when you’re in a car cruising 80km/h down a highway, you’re essentially sitting in a missile? Cars can be dangerous, and any number of things can cause accidents – from road hazards to weather to self or other drivers’ mistakes. Unfortunately, in any vehicle, it only takes one mistake to be potentially fatal. Thus, car manufacturers have continually improved upon car safety features to ensure that if (and when) a crash happens, the driver and passengers will walk away with as little injury as possible. So today, we take a look at a few safety features that focus on protecting the occupants of a car
Ah, the ubiquitous seatbelt. How many notices and reminders have we heard to buckle up when we’re in a car? For good reason! The seatbelt is arguably the single most important piece of car safety equipment. A few new features have brought seatbelts a long way from where they were.
Seatbelt pretensioners are used to instantly retract excess slack in a seatbelt during a crash. However, you must ensure that the seatbelt is as snug as possible as while powerful, it cannot pull you back into your seat. Force limiters are pretensioners’ companion, serving to manage the force of the belt on the chest after the pretensioners tighten the belt.
Adjustable upper belts are yet another improved feature, allowing the occupants to change the position of the shoulder strap to suit the size of the passenger.
Usually located in the front, airbags supplement the protection seatbelts offer by inflating in milliseconds when a crash is detected to prevent the front passengers from hitting the dashboard, steering wheel, or windshield. However, note that airbags are not effective without being belted in and are not substitutes for seatbelts. Also, children can be seriously injured or killed by airbags which is why children should always be seated behind, preferably in a child seat if necessary.
Other innovations over the years are side airbags and side curtain airbags that inflate from the sides to protect from debris and hitting the head against the side of the car.
Ever wondered why cars crumple so easily when hit compared to older cars? These are on purpose, where the inertia and momentum of a crash is dissipated by the crumple zones in the front, sides, and rear. This is to protect passengers from absorbing all that potentially fatal kinetic energy. Designers normally have to strike a balance between too much and too little impact resistance.
Passenger Safety Cage
Just as the crumple zone is designed to dissipate kinetic energy, it works in tandem with the passenger safety cage which comprises the cabin or passenger section of the car that keeps its shape in a crash. Areas like the steering column, dashboard, roof pillars, and pedals should not be pushed inwards too much which might cause injury. To achieve this, the chassis around the passenger section is usually heavily reinforced to ensure that while the exterior may be badly damaged, the car’s interior can survive relatively intact.
Here we see some innovative safety features that have seen tremendous improvement over the years. Stay safe, buckle up, and drive well!