Over the years, cars have undergone some important improvements in order to help save the lives of those who use them. From windshield wipers to anti-lock brakes, there are a variety of safety features that have been introduced into modern cars.
In the 1950s, physicians and university professors conducted crash tests to determine how to minimize injuries and fatalities. These studies led to the introduction of seat belts and padded dashboards.
1. Windshield Wipers
The evolution of car safety is a story of innovation. From seat belts and airbags to radar cruise control, these innovations have all made driving a much safer experience.
One of the most important advances in automotive technology is windshield wipers. Without them, driver visibility would be utterly hampered in bad weather.
2. Four-Wheel Hydraulic Brakes
When the first automobiles were developed, their brakes were alarmingly basic. Some had levers that would push wood blocks against the wheel hub, and others simply had a single set of friction brakes on each axle.
Thankfully, advances in automotive technology have made the brakes of today much safer. In fact, most cars are now equipped with hydraulic brakes.
3. Seat Belts
It’s no secret that seat belts are one of the most important safety innovations in automotive history. They’ve saved more than 300,000 lives since 1960 and about 15,000 in 2016.
Seat belts are a critical passive safety device that protects occupants from serious injury or death during a car accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that seat belt use cuts the risk of fatal injuries in a crash by nearly half.
4. Side Curtain Airbags
Side curtain airbags are a great safety feature that reduces the risk of head injury and fatalities in side impact crashes. The technology has helped save many lives over the years.
Automakers use sensors to detect a vehicle’s sideways movement and tilting when a rollover is imminent, triggering the deployment of the airbag.
5. Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
Almost every new car in Europe and the United States has an anti-lock brake system (ABS) installed. It prevents wheels from locking up during heavy braking.
ABS works by sensing the rate of wheel rotation and sending that data to a control module. It then signals a pump and valves that cause the brake calipers to squeeze and release in rapid fire succession to slow down the wheels.
6. Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
ESC electronically monitors a vehicle’s steering and vehicle rotation to detect understeer, oversteer, and hydroplaning. If it detects a problem, it automatically brakes a wheel to help the driver keep control of the car and prevent skidding out of control.
In order to estimate the effectiveness of ESC in reducing crashes, NHTSA analyzed crash data from domestic and imported passenger cars and LTVs (light trucks and vans) from model years 1997 through 2004. It used 2×2 contingency tables to compare make-models equipped with ESC against those that did not have ESC, using non-relevant crash involvements as a control group.
7. Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
TPMS is an important safety feature that monitors the air pressure of each tire and alerts the driver if it goes below the recommended inflation level. It has become standard equipment on many passenger vehicles in the United States and other countries.
There are two main types of TPMS systems. Direct TPMS uses battery-powered sensors that directly read the pressure in each tire and transmits this information to the vehicle’s computer system.
8. Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
The most basic form of lane monitoring technology is lane departure warning (LDW). This tech uses a low-cost camera to continuously watch for striped and solid lane markings.
If the car crosses over a line, it warns with a visual alert and an audible tone or vibration. It may also use braking to keep the vehicle in its lane.
9. Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
AEB is a technology that can prevent a collision by automatically braking your car to avoid hitting an obstacle like a stopped vehicle or pedestrian. It can also reduce the severity of a crash if it can’t avoid it entirely.
Autonomous emergency braking works with sensors and cameras that scan the road ahead. It alerts the driver if an obstacle is in front of their car and applies the brakes accordingly.
10. Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
Advances in forward collision warning (FCW) are helping drivers avoid rear-end collisions. These safety systems use radar, lasers, and cameras to detect slower-moving vehicles and objects in front of the vehicle.
FCW typically provides a visual, audio, or tactile warning to the driver about a potential collision ahead. Some warn in just one of these ways, while others may issue a combination of warnings.