What Things Make Your Car (and You) Safe?

Consumer Voice - - Car Safety -

Let’s see. In a well-de­signed car, mul­ti­ple safety sys­tems work to­gether to keep the driver and pas­sen­gers safe in dif­fer­ent crash sit­u­a­tions.

The most ba­sic thing is the seat belt of course. But then, that’s a manda­tory re­quire­ment and ev­ery car has to have it. It pre­vents oc­cu­pants from im­pact with the car in­te­rior or be­ing tossed from the ve­hi­cle in an accident. Many con­tem­po­rary cars have a warn­ing sys­tem in the form of lights or au­di­ble sounds to re­mind car oc­cu­pants to fas­ten their seat belts.

Belt pro­tec­tion can be sup­ple­mented by head re­straints and airbags. Head re­straints are built into ve­hi­cle seats to limit head move­ment dur­ing a rearim­pact crash. It is de­signed to pre­vent whiplash and other neck in­juries. Head re­straints can be in­stalled on front and rear seats. Airbags stop oc­cu­pants from hit­ting hard parts of the car dur­ing a col­li­sion. Hit­ting a wind­shield, dash­board, steer­ing wheel or side door can cause se­ri­ous in­jury.

Side-im­pact pro­tec­tion can prove crit­i­cal in a crash. In­creased side-door strength, in­ter­nal pad­ding and bet­ter seats can im­prove pro­tec­tion in side-im­pact crashes. There have been some new in­no­va­tions such as side-in­tru­sion beams or other pro­tec­tion within the door struc­ture. Some cars also have pad­ding on the in­side-door pan­els. In­creas­ingly, car man­u­fac­tur­ers are in­stalling side airbags that pro­vide pro­tec­tion from se­vere in­jury. Head-pro­tect­ing side airbags, such as cur­tain airbags, are highly ef­fec­tive in side im­pact and rollover crashes.

A car must have a strong struc­ture to ab­sorb crash en­ergy while keep­ing the pas­sen­ger com­part­ment in­tact. This is where ‘crum­ple zones’ come in. In frontal, rear and off­set (those oc­cur­ring at an an­gle) crashes, mod­ern ve­hi­cles pro­tect oc­cu­pants by ab­sorb­ing crash en­ergy and re­duc­ing the forces to which oc­cu­pants are ex­posed. This is be­cause the front and rear sec­tions crum­ple in a con­trolled and pro­gres­sive man­ner, al­low­ing the oc­cu­pant com­part­ment to de­cel­er­ate more slowly. The de­cel­er­a­tion means less force passes on to oc­cu­pants and in­jury is less likely.

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