10 Car Safety Features

February 21, 2012

Drivers are protected by more car safety features than ever, including airbags, shatter resistant glass, anti-lock brakes, stability control, and more.

Seat Belt - A Key Car Safety Feature

Constantly evolving vehicles have created the need for more car safety features than vehicles of the past. As cars become faster and more efficient, they must also become safer.

  • Shatter resistant glass. Shatter resistant glass provides a windshield that breaks into numerous, harmless pieces in the event of an accident. The windshields in earlier motor vehicles where dangerous. If the windshield was to brake, the driver would be covered in shards of glass. Shatterproof glass is laminated in such a way as to prevent injuries
  • Seatbelts. This safety feature, invented in 1849, was not standard equipment until 1966, when the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Act and the Highway Safety Act gave control to the federal government. The federal government formed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA. The NHTSA made it mandatory for all vehicle manufacturers to make seatbelts standard in all motor vehicles. Since the 1960's several improvements to seatbelts have been made
  • Airbags. In 1968, Allen Breed invented the first electronic sensor to set off air bags in the case of an accident. In 1988, Chrysler made airbags standard equipment in all their vehicle models. Chrysler was ahead of the game, since it was not until 1998 that airbags became mandatory in all motor vehicles
  • Anti-lock braking systems. The earliest braking systems in automobiles only applied braking pressure to the rear wheels. During emergency breaking situations the rear wheels would lock up, causing the vehicle to slide and swerve to a stop. It was not until the 1920's that four wheel brakes where introduced. Four wheel brakes helped prevent swerving in an emergency braking situation. The introduction of ABS solved the skidding problem and also allowed the driver to maintain control of steering, while braking on slick surfaces
  • Stability control. Stability control allows drivers to avoid dangerous rollover accidents, by the computer helping to compensate for driver error. If you turned too hard in a vehicle without stability control you may have a rollover accident. If you did the same maneuver in a vehicle with stability control the computer compensates for the amount of over steer by sending power to different wheels to avoid an accident
  • Lights. Three types of lights are essential for any vehicle: break lights, turn signals and headlights. Make sure that you use all these. You should also check the bulbs regularly to ensure that they're in perfectly working condition. Have a bulb replaced as soon as it fails. If you're frequently traveling on long routes at nighttime, you should consider having powerful bulbs or HIDs installed for your headlights
  • Mirrors. Proper positioning of side and rear view mirrors is very important. Proper alignment of mirrors ensures high visibility and eliminates the blind spots
  • Bumpers. Perhaps the most primitive of safety features, bumpers are built to withstanding minor collisions. They can prevent damage to the main body and engine of the car
  • Four wheel steering. This option offers precise maneuvering ability while driving at a high speed. It is especially useful if you're driving on hilly areas
  • Pre-collision technology. Many modern day cars have sensors that provide impact protection when an impending collision is detected. Seat belts get tighter, airbags align and brakes become preloaded to reduce shock
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