From their more humble beginnings at the end of the nineteenth century to the technology packed cars of today, there is little questioning the fact that car safety have come a long way.
While getting in a car is still one of the most dangerous things to do on any given day, the numbers of road traffic accidents, fatalities and injuries tend to drop significantly every year. We take a look at some of the most efficient car safety inventions that forever changed the way we drive.
1. The seat belt
Despite all the latest advancements in technologies, the seatbelt is still the number one car safety feature. Wearing a seatbelt reduce the numbers of fatalities by an impressive 50% on average, as revealed in several studies lead in the 1980’s by Klaus Langwieder and Maximilian Danner. Other studies revealed that seat belts actually save one life every seven seconds on average. Around 93% of all car drivers and passengers now wear a seatbelt and while it’s now required by law to wear them (you can be fined up to £500 in the UK if you’re caught not wearing it), it wasn’t always the case and as incredible as it might seem now, the issue was debated for years in many european countries.
2. The airbag
Originally, the airbag was conceived in the 1950’s with the hopes of replacing seat belts altogether. Tests were run and results were deemed inconclusive. Safety cars experts now agree that it’s the combination of both seatbelts and airbags that is the most efficient. Walter Linderer, a German engineer, was the first to ever have the airbag concept patented in 1951. Airbags actually existed before but earlier versions of this popular safety feature weren’t up to scratch. Nowadays, airbags reduce risks of fatalities in the event of a car crash by up to 20% according to crash tests run in 2004.
3. The anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)
The anti-lock braking system was first invented in 1929 for aircraft use. It was later more widely brought into the automobile world by Chrysler in the 1970’s. The technology prevents the vehicle’s wheels to lock up when braking or trying to avoid an obstacle and skidding. A study led in 2009 in Sweden revealed that up to 40% of all car crashes can be avoided thanks to the ABS feature.
4. The Electronic Stability Program (ESP)
The electronic stability program, more commonly known as ESP, is one of the most recent advances in safety cars technologies. It was first conceived twenty years ago by Bosch and it’s now become the norm in all built vehicles. ESP enables a vehicle to avoid skidding uncontrollably in the event of an accident. Sensors strategically placed in the vehicle make sure the driver’s steering correspond to the actual trajectory of the vehicle. If this isn’t the case, the ESP reacts immediately by steering the wheels back on track. Up to 80% of all car crashes caused by skidding can be avoided thanks to ESP, making it one of the most important car safety features after the seatbelt.
© Alex Hendrson 2016