So you’ve thought about the colour, price and size of your new car, but have you considered how much protection it will give you in a crash? RAA's automotive experts help explain some of the newest safety features on the market.
Active Braking Systems
These can almost halve stopping distances, depending on the type of system, and reduce the chance of a collision in seven out of 10 instances, Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission reports.
Anti-lock brakes (ABS)
Heavy braking in older vehicles causes the tyres to stop rotating and the steering wheel to lock – increasing the chance of losing control of the car. ABS stops this from happening and is fitted to all new passenger vehicles.
Electronic brake distribution (EBD)
EBD calculates which tyres have the most grip and then applies brake force appropriately, working with ABS to bring the vehicle to a controlled stop.
Brake assist reduces a car’s stopping distance by applying full force to the brakes if sensors determine the driver is attempting an emergency stop. Advanced systems in some European cars use radars to identify hazards in the vehicle’s path and brake if the driver doesn’t respond to warnings.
These are specifically designed sections on the outside of the car’s cabin that crumple and absorb impact load in a crash.
How it works: During impact, the force of the collision is absorbed by the vehicle. Older cars without crumple zones transfer the force of the crash to the passengers; however newer cars are designed to maintain the cabin’s structure and prevent serious injury to occupants.
Electronic Stability Control
Half of all road crashes occur as a result of drivers losing control of their vehicles, according to state government research. If ESC was fitted to all SA vehicles, more than 30 lives could be saved and 270 serious injuries avoided each year.
How it works: ESC detects whether a car has strayed from its intended path – based on its steering – and works with the braking system and engine to help prevent the driver from losing control. It’s particularly effective in slippery conditions, when the chance of skidding and losing traction is high.
Intelligent Speed Assist
Speeding contributed to nearly a third of fatal crashes in SA last year. According to the Centre for Automotive Safety Research, if ISA was fitted to all vehicles, crashes could be cut by up to 26.4 per cent depending on the type of system installed.
How it works: ISA uses GPS map data to find posted speed limits and then inform the vehicle when you’re speeding. Three types of ISA systems are currently available:
Advisory ISA: Alerts the driver that they’re speeding and that they need to slow down.
Supportive ISA: Actually prevents the vehicle from speeding by limiting acceleration, cutting fuel supply or applying the brakes, but the driver can override these controls.
Limiting ISA: Works the same way as supportive devices, but the driver can’t override speed-reduction measures.
Lane Warning Systems
Fatigue and inattention are two of the biggest causes of crashes in Australia – directly linked to almost 70 per cent of road fatalities each year. In these instances, collisions usually occur because drivers cross lanes into the path of oncoming vehicles or leave the road and crash into obstacles. These technologies alert drivers to such errors to prevent accidents.
Lane departure warning: In-built cameras detect road markings and use auditory and visual alerts – such as an alarm – to warn the driver if they’re about to leave the road or cross into another lane.
Lane-keep assist: Building on lane departure warning, this technology actively adjusts braking and steering to correct the path of a straying vehicle.
Blindspot warning system: Using radars and in-car sensors, drivers are warned of vehicles in their blindspot and are alerted to danger if they attempt to change lanes.
To find out more about these car safety features – and others – read the full story in samotor's e-magazine.