Modern motor vehicles in the United States must meet a dizzying array of specifications to be sold to consumers. Safety is a huge concern of automobile manufacturers. Vehicles combine things such as comfort, style, reduced ecological impact, reduced emissions, improved fuel economy and affordable pricing to meet consumer demand and government standards. Every consumer wants a safe automobile, but many are not sure how to decide what safety features to insist on. Safety for motor vehicles can be structural, mechanical, sensors and software, and electronics as well as being passive or active.
Structural safety includes things such as reinforced roofs and door panels, crumple zones and safety glass. Mechanical safety can include things such as anti-lock brakes and airbags. Sensors and software can control things from the amount of power transferred to the drivetrain and automatic braking to activating air bags. Electronic safety features include things such as radar proximity detectors to warn of nearby cars, objects, people or pets, and backup cameras. They overlap with sensors and software. Passive safety devices such as chassis reinforcement and airbags need no user intervention to work. Active safety systems such as backup cameras and most seat belts need occupants to actively employ their use. Here are four safety features to look for when buying a car at your local Salt Lake City Chevrolet car dealerships.
The structural design of the passenger compartment is the primary safety shield around you and your family in the event of a collision. Vehicles that have high safety ratings in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash test results offer better safety protection. Ask about side impact protection, crumple zones, and offset crash and rollover protection.
Drivetrains, Safety Sensors and Software
All-wheel drive vehicles are better than front-wheel drive vehicles on slippery roads. Rear-wheel drive vehicles provide the least traction in snow. Four-wheel drive vehicles have drivetrains that can switch power from two to four wheels through manual or automatic switching. Automatic four-wheel drive switching uses sensors to detect wheel slip. Electronic Stability Control uses sensors and software that control braking and acceleration to help keep vehicles on the road when speed or road conditions are causing veering from the intended direction. Sensors can also warn when rapidly closing in on vehicles or objects to help prevent collisions.
Mechanical Safety Systems
Anti-lock brakes on a vehicle are also known as an anti-skid braking system (ABS). They were first put to use on airplanes as far back as 1929. The use of ABS in vehicles began in 1970, but it was not until 1993 that one vehicle model had four-wheel anti-lock brakes as a standard. The ABS can be taken for granted today as it has been required in all passenger cars in the United States since 2013. It is still possible to find some used vehicles without it. Electronic Stability Control was also part of that requirement in 2013, and it is software that uses sensors along with automatically applying braking to individual wheels to control skidding.
Airbags are technically mechanical, but they are activated passively by sensors when a crash is detected. Dual front airbags in vehicles have been required since 1998. However, different vehicles have different airbag systems. Some have side-impact and side curtain airbags that protect front seat passengers. Some airbags provide side impact protection to rear seat passengers as well. A new type of airbag is deployed between the driver and another front passenger to keep them from hitting each other in a crash. You should know how many and what type of airbags are in your vehicle.
Electronic Safety Systems
There are all kinds of sensors in vehicles. They do everything from monitoring the oil pressure and coolant temperature to detecting when objects are behind you when backing up. Some sensors can detect side traffic approaching when you are backing up, and some vehicles are actually capable of applying the brakes to avoid a collision. Forward Collision Alert can warn of an impending frontal collision to help drivers react with steering and braking. Backup and 360-degree camera viewing systems are also electronic safety systems. There are versions available for practically every new vehicle model. You can pick a trim package that includes the electronic safety systems you think would benefit you the most.
Safety features overlap each other in categories. Sensors are electronic and controlled by software that can manipulate mechanical safety systems to help protect you and your family. Cars today are integrated systems that use complex computer algorithms to control mechanical devices proven to improve safety in protecting occupants from crashes and protecting them more if a crash does occur. However, no safety feature or system should be considered a substitute for attentive drivers operating a motor vehicle in a deliberately safe manner at all times.