5 Most Important Vehicle Safety Features of the 21st Century
Think about it. Much of the time, you’re driving toward oncoming traffic at a speed that could kill you in a head-on collision, and your only protection is a pair of thin yellow lines on the road. To make matters even more difficult, we often drive in dark, wet, freezing or slippery conditions.
Auto makers are constantly working to keep us safe on the road. From seatbelts to airbags to anti-lock brakes, recent decades have been full of vehicle safety innovations that help us walk away from accidents and even avoid them all together. The following are 5 of the most impressive vehicle safety innovations we’ve seen so far this century.
Tire Pressure Sensors
Not only can low tire pressure hurt a car’s gas mileage, it can also hinder steering and even lead to a dangerous blowout. To take care of this easily corrected problem, all vehicles built after October 31, 2006, are required to feature a low tire pressure monitoring system. If one of the tires is low, the driver is instantly alerted via a dashboard light.
Many of today’s vehicles feature an emergency response system that tracks the vehicle via GPS. While GM was the first automaker to offer this service with OnStar, other manufacturers like Volvo, Lexus, and BMW have since followed. Emergency response services range from calling local police and fire as soon as an accident occurs to tracking stolen vehicles and providing driving directions.
While air bags have been around since the 1970s, they’ve seen tremendous improvements in the last decade. One of the most important recent airbag innovations has been “smart” airbags that can not only sense whether or not a person is wearing a seatbelt but also how much that person weights, how severe the crash is and where the collision takes place. These innovations can save the life of a child or a person not wearing a seatbelt. Airbags can also be placed around the entire vehicle, protecting the head as well as passengers in the back seat.
Spinouts and rollovers are two of the most dangerous things that can happen to a car in an accident. To prevent these types of accidents, many modern vehicles come with various stabilization controls. These systems can sense when a driver is trying to steer in an emergency and apply automatic braking to individual wheels. Stabilization is different from Anti-lock brakes, which only prevent brakes from locking.
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