Knowing your car safety features can save lives. Let's take air bags for example, a safety device in a car which automatically fills with air if the car crashes and is designed to protect the person driving the car. Consumers often ignore the various car safety features and their importance. It is a universal right to be safe and one needs to be sure that the vehicles that are purchased have an adequate level of protection. How do we know that cars are safe? Let's get to know the 7 car safety features that could help save your life.
Car safety features can be explained in two parts:-
Primary safety features that can help prevent accidents and the secondary safety features that can reduce the chance of death or injury if an accident occurs.
Primary Safety Features of a car
- Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
ESC is the most significant advance in vehicle safety since the introduction of the seat belt, and one of the most important crash avoidance systems available. Tests have shown it can prevent up to a third of all crashes. This system helps a driver to avoid crashes by reducing the danger of losing control or skidding as a result of over-steering. Sensors in each wheel detect the start of a slide and small amounts of braking are automatically applied to individual wheels to regain stability and bring the car back under control.
This feature is commonly known as ESC, but different acronyms have been given by manufacturers to this feature, such as ESP, ASC or DSC. If the consumer is not sure, s/he should ask the car dealer whether a car has this vital feature.
- Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD)
Electronic brake-force distribution automatically varies the amount of brake force applied to each of the vehicle's wheels to maximise stopping powers. EBD establishes the optimal brake-force balance which further helps to bring the vehicle to a halt swiftly, safely and in a straight line. Due to factors like road conditions, speed and different grips, not all wheels need equal breaking.
- Brake Assist
This system helps drivers to stop the vehicle more quickly during emergency braking. Tests show that when making emergency stops, many drivers don't press the brake pedal fast enough or hard enough to make full use of a car's braking power. The brake assist helps in recognising the signs of an emergency braking situation and automatically provides extra brake support to drivers.
- Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and collision avoidance systems
These advanced systems use cameras and radar to detect when an object is ahead and an impact is likely. Several manufacturers have developed these systems and these can be grouped as:
- Autonomous: The system acts independently of the driver to avoid or mitigate the accident.
- Emergency: The system will intervene only in a critical situation.
- Braking: The system tries to avoid the accident by applying the brakes.
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.
Secondary Safety Features of a car
- Seat Belts
Seat belts save lives and must be worn by both front and rear seat passengers. Seat belts drastically reduce the chance of death and injury and modern seat belts have further enhancements to improve their effectiveness. Seat belt pre-tensioners take up any slack in the belt when they detect that a crash is imminent. Load limiters help minimise belt inflicted injury by allowing the belt to stretch slightly as a crash takes place, reducing the peak load that is placed on the passenger's body.
An Airbag is a safety device in a car which automatically fills with air if the car crashes and is designed to protect the people traveling in the car. In general, the more airbags a car has, the better. Front airbag helps in head-on crashes; seat and door mounted airbags help protect the pelvis, chest and abdomen in a side-on impact; and curtain airbags drop down from the roof lining to protect passenger's heads. To prevent potential injuries to front seat occupants caused by lower level parts of the car's interior, knee level airbags have been introduced.
- Head Restraints
Head restraints are an automotive safety feature integrated into the top of each seat. They are designed to prevent whiplash injuries, but to be effective they must be well-designed and adjusted correctly for the height of the occupant.
Nowadays some cars have active head restraints that actually move forward in a crash situation to better support the head and neck and mitigate the effects of whiplash injury.
Vehicles Rules & Regulations:
- The Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways (MORTH) is considering making an aural speed warning mandatory in vehicles; quite similar to seat belt warning, a beep will be sounded at 80 km/h and at over 90 km/h, a continued beep will caution.
- Rearview sensors or reverse-parking sensors will be mandatory on all new vehicles. A few car manufactures are already offering this feature.
- From 1 October 2017, safety features such as airbags and Anti-lock Braking systems (ABS) will become mandatory in all new cars.
- Rule 125 (1A) of Central Motor Vehicles Rules (CMVR), 1989, makes it mandatory for four - wheelers (cars) to have seat belts.
- Section 194B in Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill (MVAB) imposes penalty of Rs 1,000 for driving without safety belt or carrying passengers (both front and rear) not wearing seat belts. The section also proposes that ‘whoever drives a motor vehicle or causes or allows a motor vehicle to be driven with a child who, not having attained the age of fourteen years, is not secured by a safety belt or a child restraint system shall be punishable with a fine of Rs 1,000.’