Safety is by far the most important thing a car needs. Seatbelts are the first safety features you think of, but various advanced safety features further protect you, with some preventing accidents altogether, such as automatic braking and forward-collision warnings.
When you look and compare cars, don’t overlook or compromise on the car safety features offered. In the Audi A3 specs, features like airbags and antilock brakes come as standard. When buying older cars, it is worth confirming the safety features with the dealership before buying. Here’s a guide to additional safety features you may need in your vehicle.
Although some cars were equipped with airbag systems previously, since 1998, airbags were standardised for all new vehicles, and in 1999, this standard was introduced for light trucks. Connected to the onboard computer are crash sensors, which trigger and deploy airbags in the blink of an eye if they detect a frontal collision. Airbags are essential and have saved countless lives in car crashes.
On the contrary, airbags can prove unsafe if they deploy on an unrestrained passenger with a seatbelt, particularly children under 12 and infants. With numerous technology improvements over the years, the airbag system introduced dual-stage front airbags or adaptive airbags. To minimise the risk of injuries, the airbags deflate to adjust to a passengers seat position, height, and weight.
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)
Before introducing the anti-lock brake system, steering during hard braking was impossible. Wheels would lock and stay in the same position until the vehicle completely stopped. On slippery roads, it would be impossible to steer, and as a result, many car crashes could not be prevented. ABS has sensors at each wheel preventing them from locking while maximising brake action.
Where necessary, to avoid any obstacles, the anti-lock brake system gives you the freedom to change course when the brakes are activated. To allow maximum control power, the ABS rapidly chatters the brake pedals, providing a pulsing sensation. Not to be alarmed, manufacturers suggest this is how the system works, and all you need to do is apply your brake firmly.
Maximum traction control comes from a limited wheel spin while the vehicle is in acceleration. When launching an exceptionally high-powered car, starting in icy or wet conditions, the traction control system is functional at varying speeds, depending on the vehicle. To help slow down a spinning wheel momentarily, traction control works in conjunction with the car’s anti-lock brake system. Ultimately, the system is there to minimise wheel spin by transferring power to the opposite wheel.
Electronic Stability Control
Taking traction control up a notch, this is where the electronic stability control (ESC) comes in. This system’s primary job is to prevent the vehicle from skidding or sliding off course during a turn. With multiple sensors, the computerised system uses the rotation angle, sideways motion, steering angle, and speed to maintain the vehicle’s stability.
Depending on the system, when the ESC detects the car is not going on the intended path, it reduces engine power, activates brakes on one or more wheels to return the vehicle to its course. This system also helps keep top-heavy, tall cars like pickups and sport utilities stable, preventing them from rolling over during hard turns.
Seat Belt Features
Although the seatbelt is the single most critical safety feature, it continues to improve as technology and innovation grow. During a hard frontal impact, the seatbelt system is designed to retract instantly using pre-tensioners, keeping passengers as upright as possible and safely embracing the airbag deployment cushion.
Working hand in hand with pre-tensioners, force limiters reduce the force of impact once the pre-tensioners have tightened the passenger’s shoulder and chest area. To further minimise pressure on fragile passengers like the elderly and small children, newer seat belt models offer inflatable belts.
Adaptive Cruise Control
When driving on the highway, one of the things driver’s focus on apart from the steering is keeping a safe distance from cars in front. Using a combination of cameras, radar, and laser, adaptive cruise control senses the distance between you and the vehicle ahead and automatically keeps a safe distance.
If traffic jams, the system adapts to the stop, go, and flow of the traffic, allowing you to focus on more than just steering. Many vehicles with this system usually have a lane assist, sensing lane markings to ensure the car stays on its intended path.
Blind-Spot Warning (BSW)
To prevent side collisions from unseen vehicles while changing lanes, cars with advanced technology are fitted with blind-spot warning systems. Hidden in the car’s blind spot vicinity, sensors use cameras or radar to detect an object lurking from the lane beside.
The systems alert using sound audio and illuminate a light near the rear-view mirrors to indicate a corrective action is needed. Vehicles with advanced automatic control systems will attempt to steer the car towards the centre of the lane or brake if necessary.
Since 2018, light-duty vehicles have been manufactured with rear-view cameras as a standardised safety feature. When the car is placed in reverse gear, the system is activated to provide camera-based assistance in the rear-view mirror or a centre screen console. This system is used mainly during parking. It helps the driver to avoid bumper level objects immediately behind the vehicle.
The backup camera gives the driver a good view of concealed pedestrians, children, making it a recommended safety feature for every driving scenario. Although many backup camera systems provide rearview only, advanced systems can give a 360 view.
Telematics is a combination of a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) and cellular telephone technology, which provides convenience and adds a high level of safety. Many manufacturers are starting to build in such a system while outsourcing this service to private agents.
Vehicle tracking companies use this information to know the exact location of a vehicle at any given time, to provide emergency aid when needed promptly. In the event of a hijack, car crash, or maybe you can’t find your car in a large parking lot, a telematics dispatch team will be at your rescue in no time.