If you were looking to purchase a new vehicle, what safety features do you need to know about? What is popular in the marketplace? And what about new features – introduced in the last few years?
In 2015, just in the Lower Mainland area, 200,000 vehicle crashes occurred. For passengers, injuries can be sustained in car accidents – including brain injuries. We also want to prevent situations, such as distracted driving. But one method of prevention for vehicle passengers is to look at some of the basic safety features that are available in vehicles.
Basic Safety Features
As early as the 1930s and 1940s, features were being introduced to vehicles to make them safer. A basic item, that never gets enough credit, is the seatbelt. In the 1930s, two American doctors advocated the usage of seatbelts. One of those doctors, C.J. Strickland, later came to create the Automobile Safety League of America.
Safety Glass and Windshields
In early cars, windshields were not standard equipment. As more and more vehicles took to the roads, the rates increased of the possibility of being harmed by flying rocks or other debris. By 1937, safety glass was mandated for use in all cars. Around this time, is when tempered glass became introduced for all North American vehicles.
Child Car Seats
Early car seats were meant to lift children up – so they could see outside. Only later, did occupant safety become something creators focused on. In 1962, two people designed a car seat with safety in mind. American Len Rivkin designed a seat of metal framing into which a child was buckled, and also from Britain, Jean Ames designed a rear-facing car seat.
In the 1980s, airbags became an optional feature in new vehicles. By 1989, Chrysler was the first U.S. car manufacturer to install driver-side airbags in all of their domestically produced vehicles. But airbags are now much more commonly included in vehicles. They became standard on cars in 1998 and light trucks in 1999.
Car Lights and Reflectors
Vehicles include a number of lights and reflectors. These features outline the vehicles: presence, position, width, length, and direction of travel, and also features to indicate intentions to other drivers. Some of these features are: headlights, rear lights, side marker lights and reflectors, turn signals, brake lights, and lights for reversing. Daytime running lights have been required in Canada since 1990.
New Safety Features and Enhancements
There are many newer safety features. In addition to what we may consider basic safety features listed above, here are some of the new features and enhancements.
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
With regular brakes, it was fairly common that the brakes could lock during hard braking. But an anti-lock braking system prevents this from happening, with sensors on each wheel and a computer that maximizes braking action at each wheel, to prevent them from locking up. ABS allows the driver to continue to have steering control while braking; and then the driver can maneuver around an obstacle.
Blind Spot Detection
Blind spot detection provides a bit more than the side mirrors can provide. They provide cameras or sensors to detect when a vehicle pulls beside you. They can trigger a warning that it is not safe to change lanes. Some vehicles have a more active form of blind spot detection, which steers you back to your lane, if it is unsafe to change lanes.
Electronic Stability Control
The electronic stability control (ESC) system helps keep the vehicle on its intended path during a turn, and avoid sliding or skidding. The ESC is extremely helpful for tall or top-heavy vehicles like sport-utilities and pick-ups. It can help keep these vehicles out of situations where it may rollover.
These are cameras that are in place, to help you while you are in reverse. The rear view is displayed in a centre console screen or on the rear-view mirror. These are commonly used as a parking aid, but they are also effective to see if there are pedestrians in the blind spots behind the vehicle. Transport Canada has determined that all new cars and small trucks will have to contain backup cameras by May 2018. This change now puts Canadian regulations in line with U.S. standards.
Lane Monitoring Assist
Lane assistance warning or prevention is helpful if you drift out of your lane, while adjusting the radio, or something else. This drifting is common, but it can also be a common cause of accidents. Most of these warning systems include cameras mounted on the side mirror or rear view mirror, to watch for lane markings. The system will warn you when a tire is about to unintentionally drift over the lane marking.
Adaptive Cruise Control
Cruise control can be a great feature on longer drives, but turning it off can be a hassle. Using a radar sensor, active cruise control (ACC) can tell when a car ahead of you is moving slower than your car, and can adjust your speed accordingly. These systems usually have a setting that varies the gap between your car and the car in front of you, depending how comfortable you are with the distance.
Automatic Emergency Braking
With the use of cameras or sensors, the vehicle is able to see if you need to brake due to an obstacle or other obstruction. It will sense a potential collision, and if the driver doesn’t react in time, the car will initiate automatic braking.
This new feature is using forward collision control to protect pedestrians. The vehicle’s camera or radar is looking for pedestrians in the vehicle’s path. Some systems will alert the driver with an audible or visual alert. On some vehicle models, the automatic emergency braking will start if the chance of a collision is deemed to be high.
This article outlines some of the safest vehicles that are on the market: https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/cars-with-the-best-safety-features
PC Magazine – The Best Driver-Assist Cars of 2017
Written January 18, 2017
U.S. News & World Report – 11 Cars with the Best Safety Features
Written May 19, 2017
Consumer Reports – Guide to Car Safety Features
Last updated June 2016
Wikipedia – Vehicle Safety
All New Cars Must Have Rear-View Backup Cameras Starting May 2018…
Written October 31, 2016
A Clear View: History of Automobile Safety Glass
The General History of Car Seats
Written July 16, 2015
ICBC – Updated Statistics