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Why does a Car Safe?


Whenever route accident data is described in the media, or for a particularly ‘newsworthy’ tragedy for example the terrible thirty-car accident within the M5 recently, the issue of road safety is actually brought up.

The automotive industry made some spectacular technological improvements over the last century, but one of the greatest and most important areas of advancement has been safety. But what constitutes a ‘safe’ car?

The wide umbrella of ‘safety’ is generally divided into two categories: energetic safety and passive security. Active safety is the car’s ability to avoid having any sort of accident. Passive safety is the car’s ability to protect its residents once it is actually having a crash.

For example, anti-lock brakes are an active safety feature, while airbags are a passive protection feature. In this article, the first of any three-part series, we are going to examine passive safety. In the next write-up, we will look at active protection, and in the final instalment, we shall look at what you can do with the auto you are already driving to regain it safer.

Passive safety

Many people tend to associate ‘safety’ with ‘passive safety’ rather than staying away from the accident in the first place. This is simply not surprising, because most federal government regulations and high-profile applications like the EuroNCAP safety rankings concentrate heavily on how vehicles protect their occupants within an accident. Equipment like airbags and seatbelts are greatly regulated, and cars need to achieve certain levels of overall performance when crashing into obstacles and poles at specific speeds.

The improvements produced in passive safety over the last three decades are staggering. Spend some time viewing videos of crash testing on YouTube or the EuroNCAP internet site and you will be shocked at the brutalité of a full-speed car crash. For anyone who thinks make fish an airbag is a big tender pillow that reaches outside the steering wheel to lovingly take hold of you in an impact, you can be unpleasantly surprised to see precisely how explosively an airbag deploys.

“Explosively” is an appropriate expression, too, because your airbags along with seatbelts use pyrotechnics (i. e. explosions) to Yankee your seatbelt tight along with trigger the airbags a person in milliseconds once you start off having an accident. An airbag may save your life, but it really may also give you a broken nostril or cheekbones in the process. Some sort of seatbelt will hold anyone securely in place but could possibly snap your collarbone mainly because it does so.

Modern seatbelts are a technological marvel when compared to the original idea of a fixed-length belt that simply tight you to the seat. Some sort of 21st-century seatbelt enables you the flexibility to move around as you should under normal driving instances, but in the event of a car accident it will carefully yet quite rapidly pull you into the seat and let a person out again if necessary to manage how quickly you (and all of your internal organs) slow down since the car itself breaks up with you.

The seatbelt and airbags are designed to work very exactly together. Airbags deploy within specific directions, at particular speeds, and the seatbelt ensures you are held in the right spot to benefit from that. There’s no stage having an airbag stop to absorb your impact in case you miss it because you had been thrown around the cabin rather.

Airbags on American vehicles are designed to be much larger and more powerful than on European cars because fewer Americans wear seatbelts and also the airbag has to try and quit an unrestrained occupant rather than a properly-belted one. Thankfully, seatbelt usage in America features improved significantly in recent years, while it still lags behind all the other civilised world. In fact, in New Hampshire, there is even now no law requiring seatbelts to be worn!

Modern cars and trucks are also designed to crumple in very specific ways, to soak up and divert as much effects energy as possible away from often the cabin. The cabin itself is heavily reinforced so it must not crumple, which is why car or truck pillars have become much plumper in recent years, while at the same time window wrinkles have become much higher. If you look at a car or truck from the 1960s or 1972s, you will see it has lovely tiny pillars and lots of glass overall, which is great for visibility although won’t stop anything looking to come through into your cabin.

The particular chunky, almost armoured seem of many modern cars is probably not as pretty, and it absolutely impedes visibility, but it may protect you much better if however, you be inside during a car accident. Doors are heavily strong with smaller windows and also higher window lines, to protect an individual in a side impact. Gas tanks have to be mounted inside a certain way and made so that they don’t rupture and also spill fuel everywhere in a car accident to reduce the chance of fire.

Headrests are carefully designed to guard your head and neck coming from whiplash in a rear influence. The steering column must collapse in a certain exactly way so it doesn’t impale the particular driver in a frontal influence. The engine will break free from its mountings in addition to sliding under the car, in addition to virtually every component on the car or truck is designed to break in a certain strategy to absorb impact energy, in addition, to deflect it away from often the cabin.

This crumpling in addition to energy absorption is why you will still hear the old cliche this “new cars fall apart far too easily” compared to older cars and trucks. That is absolutely false instruction older cars are a lot less safe in an accident precisely because they don’t crumble in a very progressive and controlled approach. If that older car or truck runs into a wall/tree/other car or truck at 40 mph, the item effectively stops instantly or any of the energy is transferred too often to the occupants inside, so you exercise at about 40 mph, usually into the dashboard or perhaps through the windscreen.

Crash check standards are getting ever more difficult. EuroNCAP most recently overhauled it is rating system in 2009, setting up a 5-star result in the 2009 check significantly harder to achieve as compared to 2008 and before. When looking at a car’s crash-test results, it is important to check which usually test protocol was used. Scores are given for the protection of both adult and youngster occupants, as well as pedestrians, inside the new 2009 protocols.

Each of the above is merely a view into the technology behind just how your car behaves in a collision. In the next part of this sequence, we will look at how your car or truck helps you avoid a crash to start with, which is where a lot of improvement is currently taking place.

Stuart Masson is The Car Expert, a new London-based independent and neutral expert for anyone looking to buy a whole new or used car.

Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a love for cars and the automotive industry for pretty much thirty years and has spent the final seven years working in often the automotive retail industry, in Australia and in London.

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