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What is a Crumple Zone?

You might think that your car chassis is engineered to take all of the force of an impact without budging. However, this is not the case as parts of the car are specially created to bear the brunt of an accident by crumpling. So what is a crumple zone and how exactly does this protect those inside?

The Physics

If you’re unfortunate enough to be in a collision, the front of your car will crumple and condense. We see this all the time on television when accidents are televised, as the wheel arches and bonnet become concertinaed. The physics of this is actually quite interesting, as this crumpling redistributes the force of the collision.

If this didn’t happen, then the shock of the accident would travel through the car without being redistributed. This would then be more likely to injure the passengers, with much more force on each individual in the car. The sudden deceleration and impact involved with an accident would travel through the car and injure the passengers without these parts working to spread it.

While this may not seem like a very logical idea, it’s something that saves lives each and every day. Technology has drastically reduced the number of fatal collisions over time and this is one of the key elements that allows this to happen.


This theory was first pioneered back in 1937 by an engineer by the name of Béla Barényi. Until he came up with this idea, no one challenged the thinking that a chassis should be as thick and sturdy as possible. However, he came up with the idea of creating safety cells and sacrificial parts of the car that would act to distribute this shock.

If we look at cars typical of this time, the safety features really weren’t up to much. Comparing 1950s cars in collisions to the ones of today shows just how dangerous the old design could be. From this initial idea, car manufacturers have been able to create vehicles that are much more able to absorb this kind of shock.

While stronger cars seemed like a good idea initially, actually having some weaknesses has turned out to have made passengers safer.

What’s Next for Car Safety?

As we know, the innovations don’t stop there. Car manufacturers are always working to create more safety features for their customers. If we look at some of the parts available on one of the leading auto and truck accessory stores Auto Anything, we can see just how many of these have new features for safety. Moving forward, we’re likely to see this continue to be innovated in the long term.

Many car manufacturers are looking to new technology to make their drivers safer. Screens that augment reality and give them alerts can be massively beneficial to the driver. They’re not going in blind and they can tailor their driving style to the conditions up ahead.

The concept of a crumple zone isn’t a new one and it will likely be used in manufacturing for many years in the future too.

© Emily Roberts 2018