When it comes to purchasing a car, safety features are one of the main influences on many buyers’ decisions.
Modern cars are incredibly advanced, even compared to models that are just twenty years old. With further innovations such as fully autonomous vehicles imminent, vehicle safety will take on an even more significant role and be under more scrutiny than ever.
In this post, Warranty Direct highlights some of the key automotive safety regulations and devices, which have allowed manufacturers to develop the technologically advanced models of today.
The early days
The first landmark motorcar was the Ford Model T, produced between 1908 and 1927. However, one of the earliest breakthroughs in car safety came in 1934, when General Motors performed the first ever crash test.
The advent of testing led to several developments through the 1940s which are still used today, such as the padded dashboard, the safety cage and the introduction of disc brakes.
This increased focus on safety led to the UN establishing the World Forum for Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations in 1958, creating an international approach to safety standards.
From airbags to ABS, we catalogue some of the key motoring safety innovations below:
1959 – The 3-point seat belt, first created by Volvo, has been compulsory in every British car produced since 1967, preventing thousands of injuries from accidents every year.
1966 – When anti-lock brakes (ABS) were featured on a production car for the first time, the Jensen FF. The system was adapted from aircraft technology and in 1978 Mercedes developed this further with an electronic system in its S-Class model.
1981 – Although airbags were sold by General Motors in the ‘70s, the Mercedes S-Class of ’81 adopted the system still used today. Airbags are found on all modern cars, even on the outside of some types to protect pedestrians!
1995 – Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is now fitted to every car on sale and was again pioneered by the Mercedes S-Class range. By using electronic sensors, braking power on each wheel is balanced to help counteract over or understeering. It is said to have reduced fatal accidents by 25 percent and wet-weather collisions by 32 percent.
1996 – Euro NCAP was established and with it came its five-star safety rating, which is created through rigorous testing and provides a standard all new cars are held to. The rating has been updated several times and as of 2014, it’s now a two-tier system.
1998 – Advanced active head restraints first appeared across Saab’s range, which is proven to help prevent or limit back and neck injuries in rear-end collisions.
2005 – Lane departure warning systems first appeared in the Citroën C4, C5 and C6, using infrared sensors to monitor if a driver is moving out of a lane.
2015 – Volvo gives a glimpse of what’s to come, releasing the XC90 which has a ‘City Safety’ package, with advanced pedestrian detection and technology to prevent motorcycle and bicycle collisions.
The future is bright
Vehicle-to-vehicle communication is touted as the most important new safety feature, allowing cars to ‘talk’ to each other, avoiding accidents by transmitting information on speed and GPS positions.
Ford Motor Company has previewed driver health monitoring through seat belts and steering wheels equipped with vital statistics notifying a car if it needs to pull over, shut down or alert emergency services.
These are just some of the ways manufacturers are looking to modify and improve future vehicles. Whilst it’s still not clear which features the majority of companies will adopt permanently, it’s obvious these developments could make our cars smarter and safer than ever before.