Do you remember riding around in your parent’s car as a child, crammed into the back seat, with not a seat belt to be seen? Vehicle safety has come a long way since then. Here are some of the safety advances in the last few decades:
- Three-point seat belts: All new cars are fitted with these because they are much safer than lap belts. Since their use became mandatory, they have saved thousands of lives.
- Air bags: Frontal air bags have been mandatory since 1987. Side and rear air bags are available on some models and add further protection.
- Anti-lock braking systems: ABS reduce the chance the wheels lock and cause you to skid when you brake suddenly. They aim to bring your car to a stop in a straight line, reducing the chance you veer off the road or into the path of an oncoming vehicle.
- Fenders that break: Think back to the old muscle cars. They had big chrome fenders meant to protect the bodywork in the event of a crash. However, research later showed that the force of an impact was transferred to those inside the car instead. Modern vehicles have soft plastic fenders designed to crumple in a crash and absorb the energy. They sacrifice the bodywork to save the person inside.
- Parking assistance: A combination of cameras and sensors makes it easier to back into a parking space. More importantly, it reduces the chance you reverse over someone.
If you drive an old car, you may consider upgrading to gain extra safety features. However, while technology continues to improve, it has not reached the point where it can guarantee to keep you safe from the actions of a negligent driver. Until then, car crashes will still occur, leaving people with severe injuries and large medical bills.