Advancements in technology have brought us some extraordinary safety features in vehicles, which have made driving safer than ever. The consistent decline in the average number of annual fatalities supports that notion. Since 2008, the number of people killed in car accidents annually in the United States has hovered around 33,000. When compared to years prior, when fatalities averaged more than 40,000 per year, the number of deaths has decreased significantly. The safety features a vehicle comes equipped with can be the difference between injury and death in a collision.
However, just as there are numerous types of accidents, as detailed on the car accident page at Sansone Law, there are also countless safety features available from which to choose. They aren’t all necessary, though, and some may even unnecessarily increase the cost of a vehicle. So, which safety features are the most important?
When wheels lock up, they stop turning, and that makes steering impossible. Antilock brakes use sensors and a computer to prevent each wheel from locking up, and that keeps the driver in control. Antilock brakes allow a driver to brake hard, but still maneuver around obstacles, if necessary.
Since 1998, all vehicles have come equipped with standard front air bags. They have saved countless lives, but standard air bags have also led to injury. Enter adaptive air bags. By 2007, dual-stage, or adaptive air bags have been the standard in most vehicles. Adaptive air bags detect the seating position, weight, and seat belt use of the passenger, and deploy or deactivate the air bag in a way that minimizes the risk of injury.
Electronic Stability Control System:
Designed to assist drivers maintain and regain control, the electronic stability control (ESC) system is critical. According to State Farm insurance, this feature lowers fatality risk in solo car accidents by 50 percent. The risk of fatality in a rollover crash is reduced even further, by up to 80 percent.
Seatbelt Pretensioners and Force Limiters:
The most important safety feature on your vehicle is undoubtedly the seatbelt. It would be impossible to assess the number of lives that have been saved because of seatbelts, but the Center for Disease Controls estimates that seatbelt use reduces the risk of death by about 45 percent. As important as they are to our safety, seatbelts have improved, thanks to advancements in technology. Seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters work in tandem to simultaneously retract the seatbelt (to pick up the belt’s slack in a collision), and minimize the force that a shoulder belt places on the passenger’s chest.
Vehicle owners with children should only consider purchasing cars equipped with the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) System. The majority of automobiles that have been manufactured since 2002 have the LATCH System, but if you’re looking at used cars (or just want to be sure), ask the dealer if the car you’re considering is equipped with this safety feature. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that thousands of children die or are injured annually because they are improperly secured, or not secured at all. The LATCH System can help your child avoid injury or death should you be involved in an accident.
Myriad other safety features are available; including emergency response, daytime running lights, blind spot warning, and lane departure warning. They each obviously serve a purpose, but they are not all necessary. Fortunately, most of the safety features that are the most critical are now standard in vehicles, but just the same, make sure that the next vehicle you purchase has, at the very least, the fundamentally important safety features listed above.
* Pictures by Steven Depolo.