There is even an inattentive driving monitor, lane tracing assist, and pedestrian detection system being developed. Besides auto manufacturers embarking upon technological upgrades, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and lawmakers introduce laws and car safety features to improve vehicle safety standards.
Ehline Law and our personal injury lawyers believe that vehicles are safer than ever. This article will cover some of the various safety features that have made cars safer over the past decade and the five most essential safety features for new vehicles maintaining control.
Let’s get started!
These are some of the latest safety features. Airbags are an important safety feature that became mandatory for cars, light trucks, and vans in the United States in 1999. Today, most vehicles offer at least six airbags, with some having even more, such as the Toyota Camry, which comes fitted with ten airbags, including side curtain airbags.
Although airbags do not entirely protect an individual, they still help to reduce fatalities. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, airbags reduce the risk of driver fatalities in a forward collision by 29% and reduce the risk of front-seat passenger fatalities by 32%. NHTSA has conducted studies and found that airbags are an essential safety feature, especially those protecting the head and the chest.
Vehicles have frontal sensors that detect collisions. In the event of a collision, the sensors send a message to the ignitor inside the inflator within the airbags, which immediately inflates the airbags to help prevent drivers and passengers from coming into contact with the vehicle’s hard surfaces.
How an airbag inflates poses a threat of injury to a healthy adult. The chemical reaction from the ignitor works like a controlled explosion, inflating the airbag at 200 miles per hour with gas in less than one-twentieth of a second. This is why airbags are effective advanced technologies for protecting a driver while also wearing a seat belt.
Newer vehicles come equipped with the latest technology that detects occupants, measures their weight and position on the seat, and inflates the airbag accordingly, reducing the force to prevent injuries.
Anti-lock brakes became mandatory in the United States in 2000 for new passenger cars. The anti-lock brake system (ABS) helps drivers maintain steering control during emergency braking. Each wheel has a sensor fitted to help record speed, grip, and other relevant information and send it to the car’s computer and a brake device that communicates with the car’s computer.
During emergencies, a slam on the brakes can cause the wheels to lock up, resulting in the car sliding forward. Depending on the car’s speed and weight, it may continue to slide forward for 100 feet or more.
In such a state, the driver can not steer the vehicle since the wheels are no longer moving. Drivers should drive carefully within the speed limits and maintain a reasonable distance between their vehicle and the car in front of them.
However, ABS is much more different than the old-fashioned traditional braking systems. Advanced driving schools teach drivers to pump their brakes rapidly to allow wheel rotation.
With the aid of the car’s computer, ABS automatically pumps the brakes for you as you slam on the brakes. The laptop can pump the brakes faster and more effectively than a human driver.
Lawmakers in the United States struggled for decades to pass a Supreme Court ruling about seat belts. Although cars became popular in the country in the late 1920s, seatbelts became mandatory in 1968. Today, seatbelts are even present in every seat in a passenger vehicle.
The NHTSA believes that the seatbelt is the most effective safety measure ever introduced in a car and claims that wearing a seatbelt in the front seats can reduce the risk of fatal injuries by almost half.
Unfortunately, it took the nation a long time to adapt to wearing a seatbelt, as consensus arose that they were uncomfortable and inconvenient. Today, seatbelts are much more comfortable as they allow sufficient space for the occupant to naturally move while in their seat and immediately clinch upon frontal impact.
These seatbelts are also in sync with airbags, as once the airbag deploys, the seatbelt quickly settles the occupant towards the seat by tightening.
Electronic stability control became mandatory in the United States in 2012 for new passenger cars. It relies on ABS sensors and four-wheel braking to help keep the vehicle in line with the driver’s steering path.
The additional sensors with this system measure sideways motion and steering angle. The best way to understand this system is that it does what the driver sets out to do. For example, if the driver steers right, the electronic stability control will ensure the vehicle goes right.
Let’s imagine a situation where a vehicle is slipping and not going in the direction its wheels are pointing. The electronic stability control system will deploy every tool at its disposal to make sure the vehicle returns to its normal intended course. It will try to adjust the brakes on each wheel, control the engine speed, and more.
Traction control became mandatory in 2011 in all new passenger cars. The system is responsible for maintaining traction between the wheels and the surface underneath them, allowing for more grip in slippery conditions.
Traction control does not increase the wheels’ traction directly but regulates the wheels so that they don’t spin at different speeds.
If a particular wheel is spinning faster, the traction control system reduces power to that wheel. In modern vehicles, slight braking can aid in power reduction to a wheel.
We’ve gone over some basic features to help prevent fatal injuries in the event of an accident, but some modern cars come with safety features that help prevent an accident in the first place.
Let’s go over some of the safety features you should consider if you’re buying a new car.
Distracted driving is the leading cause of car accidents in the United States, with more than 424,000 people injured in 2019.
Forward collision warning helps in distracted driving situations when the driver is not paying attention and approaches a moving or stopped the vehicle in front of them too quickly. In such situations, when the system detects an impending collision, the alarm goes off, notifying the driver to hit the brakes.
Forward collision warning systems have become standard equipment in the majority of the new cars on the market and are certainly a must-have safety feature in a vehicle. It is also believed that forward collision warning is one of those safety technologies that the government might make mandatory in the future.
Standard cruise control helps maintain a regular speed regardless of the surrounding traffic situation. To disengage from the cruise control, the driver applies the brakes, and to re-engage, they must press the resume button. At times, these systems can be a hassle and can also be dangerous if you’re not careful.
Adaptive cruise control takes this type of feature to the next level. The system uses cameras, radars, and lasers to carefully monitor the traffic around the vehicle and automatically regulates the car’s speed to match that of the vehicle in front of it to avoid collisions and maintain a necessary, safe distance.
Sophisticated adaptive cruise control can also tap into the vehicle’s GPS to monitor upcoming bends and curves to slow down automatically. You can even program the speed zones into the system to ensure that the vehicle always drives at those speeds when driving on those routes.
A camera fitted near the rear-view mirror allows the lane departure warning system to monitor the lane the vehicle is driving in. Any sudden lane change without proper signaling generates an alert sound and also visual cues through the vibration of the steering wheel and the driver’s seat.
Some advanced systems automatically control the steering and braking to ensure the vehicle is driving in its respective lane.
Usually paired with the forward collision warning, the automatic emergency braking system uses a combination of radars, sensors, and cameras to identify any objects that come into the vehicle’s path. If the system believes that there is a potential collision due to the object, it will take action.
However, the action depends on the type of safety feature in the automatic emergency braking system in the vehicle. Some advanced systems take control and apply emergency braking, while others simply slow down the vehicle’s speed.
Also known as lane centering assist, these systems allow the vehicle to monitor the lane and ensure the vehicle is in the center of the road. This safety feature only works with the cruise control engaged and uses steering assist to maneuver the vehicle around curves.
Inexperienced driver is often wary of their ability to park their vehicles, which increases the risk of collisions during parking. However, with backup cameras attached to the car’s rear and parking assistance, drivers can easily park their vehicles while staying within the parameters provided by the system.
Some advanced parking systems are also capable of braking to prevent collisions.
Another major cause of vehicle accidents in the country is blind spots. These types of accidents are most prevalent in motorcycles when they come up in a car’s blind spot and are too small for the drivers to notice, resulting in an accident when turning.
Blindspot detection, also called blind-spot monitoring, is one of the latest features that alert the driver of an approaching vehicle in the car’s blind spot.
The system uses sensors to monitor vehicles that are out of the driver’s line of sight, and as soon as the vehicles approach the car, the blind spot detection system lights up the side mirrors to notify the driver.
Other technological safety features that you may want to consider include:
Tire pressure monitoring system
A study conducted in 2012 revealed that vehicles are much safer than they were in the late 1950s. Today, vehicles have a 56% lower fatality rate than when cars first became popular in the United States. The NHTSA estimates that advancements in vehicle safety technology saved 27,621 lives in 2012 and over 600,000 lives between 1960 and 2012.
The NHTSA is working to develop reasonable regulations to ensure that newer vehicles are equipped with the most advanced safety features at affordable prices. Cheaper cars with better safety systems can ensure the safety of families while on the road.
It is essential to understand that although vehicles have gotten much safer over the last few decades, there are still 5 to 6 million car accidents in the United States each year, mainly due to distracted driving. If you suffered injuries in a car accident due to another’s negligence, contact us at +(833) LETS-SUE to learn your legal options.
Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.
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