What Things Make Your Car (and You) Safe?
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.