The Evolution of Car Safety


Modern living and technology are both changing rapidly and the automotive industry is no different. Advances in car design and cutting-edge electronics have drastically changed modern cars, with respect to both active and passive safety features.

Do you know what safety features to look for when purchasing a car?

I’m sure you’re used to checking how many airbags a car has and talking to your dealer about a car’s stability and traction control. But this is just where safety begins!

Modern features such as blind-spot monitoring, cruise control, lane keep assist, driver fatigue warnings, rear-cross traffic alerts and autonomous braking have all crept into the marketplace recently – that are either unknown or not understood by many road users. Structural design changes to modern cars mean they can better withstand impact and better protect occupants.

Pedestrian safety is also recognised and planned for by manufacturers. This includes soft fixtures at the front of the car, bonnets that will cradle a pedestrian, and even hiding protruding items like wiper arms and windscreen washers. All of these elements have been developed with better safety in mind.

We recommend looking at crash testing data before purchasing a new vehicle, to see if the car’s structure will keep occupants safe from harm in the event of an accident. Howsafeisyourcar.com.au is a great tool that lists all the essential safety information of any car at a glance, and you can download a comprehensive ANCAP (Australasian New Car Assessment Program) report that will go into great detail about crash performance data and occupant safety.

How crash testing data works

As an example, we’ve looked at two models of the same car – the Ford Focus 2004 LR Hatchback, and the Ford Focus 2011 LV Hatchback.

Both cars look very similar, but the tale of the tape is very different. When you examine the offset crash data and download the reports, the advances in the car design are obvious by the different measurements of deformity between them. It is easy to see why the 2004 model gets 4-stars with a score of 25.15 out of 37, and the 2011 model gets 5-stars with a score of 34.17out of 37.

The pedal in the newer model is 128mm further away from the driver, minimising the knee hazard. The newer model has a collapsible steering column (a difference of 124mm) that sees it move towards the front of the car and away from the driver during impact. The front “A Pillar” movement is only 6mm compared to 38mm in the 2004 model, showing great advances in structural rigidity and cabin safety.

When manufacturers understand and optimise the way a car’s structure moves on impact, it helps better protect the occupants within the vehicle.

Want to learn more?

Linked below are videos and articles on the key safety features we’ve outlined above:

We highly recommend looking at your next car on the ‘how safe is your car’ website!

Here’s a great list of questions to ask your dealer when purchasing your next car, as well as breaking down what petrol you should be using. Whether used or new, purchasing a car is an investment so make sure you make informed choices as the driver!

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