Evolution of car safety
Car safety has become an increasing priority for many new car buyersi. It is important to choose a safe car so that you and your passengers are protected. We look at how car safety has changed over time.
When buying a car, new or used, it is important to choose one with appropriate safety featuresii. Many of the serious injuries that occur in car crashes may have been prevented if the driver had picked a safer carii. We look at the development of many common car safety features available to drivers today.
1921 - Head rests
Benjamin Katz invents the world's first head rest for carsiii. Head rests can reduce the severity of whiplash in rear-end collisionsiv.
1927 - Laminated windscreen
Henry Ford introduces the laminated windscreen on the Model Tv. Laminated glass windscreens are made of two sheets of glass with a clear plastic film in the middle to hold them togetherv. The danger to car occupants is greatly reduced since the laminated windscreen will stay in one piece when damagedv. Another type of safety glass is toughened (or tempered) glass. Toughened glass breaks into small, smooth fragmentsvi and is in common use for side and rear windowsv.
1948 - Padded dashboard
Preston Tucker launches the Tucker Sedan (nicknamed the Torpedo), the first car with a padded dashboardvii,viii. The padding is designed to reduce face and chest injuries to the driver and front passenger in front-on collisionsix.
1959 - First cars with the modern three-point seat belt
Volvo introduces the three-point (lap/sash) seat belt in Sweden on the PV544, which is considered to be one of the most important car safety inventions of all timex. The three-point seat belt, invented by Swedish engineer Nils Bohlin, secures both the upper and lower body during a crashx. In this year the Volvo Amazon and the PV544 became the first cars in the world to have three-point seat belts fitted as standard in the front seatsxi.
1963 - First inertia-reel seat belt
Excelsior Motor Company introduces a new type of seat belt that allows the passenger to adjust the seat belt to suit their size when fasteningxii,xiii. The inertia reel helps to prevent injury to passengers during rapid braking by locking the seat belt into placexiii.
1970 - Seat belts made compulsory in Australia
Australia was the first country to make the fitting of seat belts mandatory in all new passenger vehicles for drivers and front seat passengersxiv,xv.
1978 - Electronic anti-lock braking system (ABS)
Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the first production car with electronic ABSxvi. ABS reduces skidding when a driver brakes heavily and helps prevent loss of control of the vehicle, which is especially useful in potential crash situationsxvii.
1981 - First ever driver's airbag
Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the first production car to have a driver's airbagxvi that protects the driver from hitting parts of the car in a front-on collisionxviii.
1993 - Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP)
ANCAP starts providing independent crash test results for hundreds of vehiclesxix. It provides a rating system based on crash tests that determine a vehicle's safety for passengers in serious front and side collisionsxix.
1995 - Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
Mercedes-Benz introduces Electronic Stability Controlxx, which helps drivers avoid crashes by reducing the danger of skiddingxxi.
1999 - ANCAP adopts EURO NCAP standards
ANCAP adopts the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) methods of testing new vehicle safetyxxii. The tests produce a rating out of five stars for front occupants and out of four stars for pedestrian protectionxxiii. The adoption of these methods allows ANCAP to use ratings based on EURO NCAP test results for European cars imported to Australiaxxiii.
2004 - Blind spot information system (BLIS)
Volvo introduces the world's first blind spot warning systemxxiv. The system uses reversing camerasxxv and motion sensors to assist drivers when parking or changing lanes to prevent collisionsxxvi.
2005 - Pop-up bonnets
Pop-up bonnets designed to reduce pedestrian injuries become available on Citroen C6 and Jaguar XKix. If a car hits a pedestrian, sensors set off bonnet lifters to raise the bonnetxxvii. This creates more space between the bonnet and car engine to absorb the impact, which can reduce the injury severity to the pedestrianxxvii.
2008 - ESC added to ANCAP criteria
ESC was added to the ANCAP criteria for a vehicle to receive a five-star safety ratingxxviii.
2011 - ESC made mandatory in Australia
ESC is made mandatory for all new cars sold in Australia from 2011xxviii,xxix
2011 - Pedestrian detection
Volvo releases pedestrian detection that uses radar and cameras to detect when people are in the way of your carxxx. Using auto-brake technology, the car stops automatically if the driver doesn't manually brake in timexxx. The auto-brake technology only works up to a speed of 30km/h: its main purpose is for emergency braking in low speed, pedestrian heavy areasxxx.
2011 - Adaptive cruise control
Adaptive cruise control uses radar to adjust the car's speed based on the car in frontxxxi. It detects the distance and speed of the car ahead and maintains an appropriate distance between the two vehiclesxxxii. The safe driving distance between the two vehicles can also be changed with the simple push of a button. The adaptive cruise control is also temporarily over-ridden when the accelerator is pressed to overtake another vehiclexxxi.
Due to constant technological advances, car safety is continually improving. One way Allianz is contributing to safer driving is through the Allianz Centre for Technology. The centre focuses on occupant and traffic safety as well as vehicle design for the prevention of injuries and vehicle damage during an accident. When buying a new car, choosing one with a five-star ANCAP rating and the safety features listed above can reduce the risk of injury in the event of a crash.
Despite advances in safety technology, there's always a chance that your vehicle and others may be damaged in an accident. Car insurance can help protect you from financial loss in such a situation. Get a quote with Allianz today!