They don’t make’em like they used to… and when it comes to cars, that’s actually great news! Cars have evolved immensely over the last 120 years as well as the features that have become standard within them. With technological advancements in materials and a shift on keeping passengers in motor vehicles out of harm’s way; today’s cars, trucks, SUVs and minivans have become safer than they ever have been before. Here are 9 features that make cars safer and even come standard…
The universal modern three-point safety belt originated with Volvo in 1959. Since then, seat belt designs have evolved to include features like adjustable upper belts, seat belt pretensioners and rear center shoulder harnesses. The adjustable upper belts provide a more customized fit for each driver or passenger, making them more comfortable to wear and increasing the odds that a person will put it on. This feature also helps the belt sit snug around them and works in tandem with seatbelt pretensioners which retract the seat belt to reduce slack. In addition, rear middle seat shoulder harnesses have reduced the likelihood of spinal cord injuries associated with lap only seat belts.
Anti-locking Braking Systems (ABS)
Before the invention of anti-locking brakes, drivers needed to pump their brakes in order to avoid locking them up in panic situations and skidding on wet or slippery roads. This takes the responsibility off the driver in knowing the precise pressure and timing to regain control the vehicle. Anti-locking brake systems take the guess work out the equation and allow the vehicle to stop faster while the driver can maintain focus on steering alone. According to studies, it is estimated that vehicles with anti-locking brakes are 35% less likely to be involved in certain accidents versus vehicles that do not have ABS.
In 1998, Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act went into effect and made it a requirement for all cars and light trucks sold in the USA be equipped with airbags on both sides of the front seat. When used in conjunction with seat belts, air bags reduce the chance that an occupant’s upper body or head will strike the vehicle’s interior during a crash such as the steering wheel or window.
Daytime Running Lights
Daytime Running Lights are headlights that illuminate during the day in order to make vehicles more visible and subsequently help reduce their involvement in crashes. Not only have they been found to increase visibility to other drivers, it’s been found that daytime running lights also help other drivers more accurately gauge the distance to vehicles who have them. Since 1999, daytime running lights have become standard on all GM, Lexus, Saab, Suzuki, Volkswagen, and Volvo models.
Electronic Stability Controls
Electronic stability control systems help prevent vehicles from skidding out of control or rolling over when drivers need to steer hard or turn on slippery roads. Sensors and a computer monitor how well the vehicle responds to steering to automatically apply the brakes to a single wheel and keep the car under control. Beginning in 2012, it became a requirement for all cars, SUVs, pickups and minivans to be equipped with this safety feature.
Re-engineered Crumple Zones
One of the most innovative safety features to happen in the automotive world in the last few decades have been the re-engineering of crumple zones on modern vehicles . Simply put, crumple zones are areas of the vehicle that are designed to crumple in a collision to absorb shock from the crash. By absorbing some of the energy of the impact, these crumple zones help passengers within the vehicle from sustaining more serious injuries.
In 2006, a government regulation began requiring that vehicles be equipped with low tire-pressure warning systems. While low tire pressure can negatively impact fuel economy, it becomes a safety issue when it affects handling and even causing a blowout. Tire pressure monitors can help drivers avoid the unnecessary wear and tear from underinflated tires and a dangerous situation where tire failure occurs.
In 2018, automakers will be required to make backup cameras a standard feature on light vehicles. Rear-view camera based assistance systems are activated when the vehicle is placed in reverse and a rear view of the vehicle is displayed to the driver on either the center console or rearview mirror. Not only can it help drivers detect people, pets or objects behind the vehicle in its path before striking them, it can also assist in parking.
Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH)
All cars, minivans and pickup trucks were mandated to have lower anchors and tethers for children or LATCH systems by 2001. These systems were designed to aid in proper car seat installation and bypass seat belt installation for car seats. Manufacturers have their own recommended weight limits for these LATCH systems and it’s best to consult directly with your vehicle’s specifications before installing your car seat.
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