Active and Passive Safety Features in Vehicles

By  //  May 10, 2022

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Cars are a part of everyday American life. Unfortunately, car accidents have been witnessed since the first car hit the road. Thankfully analysis of crash data and advancements in technology has led to the creation of better safety features making today’s cars safer than they were decades ago. 

Car safety features fall into two broad categories; active and passive safety features. While all these aim to make a car safer, they work differently.

Active Safety Features

As the name suggests, active car safety features are involved in enhancing car safety by minimizing the likelihood of an accident in the first place. The automatic brake is one feature present in most newer vehicle models. The automated braking systems utilize radar signals to detect slowed down vehicles, stopped vehicles, or other obstacles on the road, and automatically decelerate the vehicle if the driver fails to respond in time to avoid a collision. 

Another common feature is the blind spot assist. This feature goes a step further than the rearview mirror to detect cars in a driver’s blind spot and alerts the driver when they attempt to make a dangerous turn. A lane departure warning alerts the driver when they unintentionally drift out of a lane, and some will even automatically steer the car back to the lane. 

Other features include cruise control, which helps the driver maintain a safe speed based on the conditions of the road by decelerating and accelerating accordingly. Some cars like Tesla have more advanced systems that allow almost autonomous driving using cameras, GPS, and radar.

Passive Safety Features

“Even with the most advanced active safety features, there is no way of eliminating all chances of an accident,” says personal injury attorney Rustin Smith of Smith Hulsey Law.

Passive safety features work to mitigate the damage when an accident occurs. One of the oldest passive safety features in a car is the airbag which protects vehicle occupants from being slammed onto internal vehicle components at impact. Today’s airbag technology is more advanced than it was two decades ago and includes side, head, and rear car seat airbags to mitigate damages irrespective of the accident.

Another passive safety feature is the seat belt. While the safety belt may be old technology, it helps save lives compared to other passive safety features. According to the NHTSA, seat belts have saved approximately 374,276 lives since 1975. It has also undergone quite an improvement in the last decade, making it even more effective in saving lives than it has ever been. 

Crumple Zones and Tempered Glasses

Most new cars now feature crumple zones that help absorb most of the kinetic energy in a collision. Unlike older cars that were composed of steel, new cars are designed with bumpers with bendable segments to absorb impact energy. 

The windshield and other windows in a car help protect car occupants from outside elements such as wind, rain, cold, and flying insects or birds. In an accident, glass can turn into dangerous weapons, causing devastating injuries. 

Fortunately, most new cars utilize highly tempered glass with high-quality lamination to ensure that the chances of the glass injuring vehicle occupants are significantly minimized.