There’s more to your car’s safety system than just airbags. From collision warnings to electronic stability control and anti-lock braking, modern cars squeeze a lot of technology into their chassis to produce a more secure, safe and comfortable ride.
Irish insurers Quoteme.ie have curated a guide which shows both current and future car technologies. The compendium aims to provide information in a single web location in order to facilitate knowledge sharing and awareness. From the resource, they’ve put together what they reckon are some of the most significant safety features in today’s vehicles.
Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
Also known as dynamic stability control, electronic stability control (ESC) is a special technology designed to prevent crashes due to loss of control. When an ESC system detects that the driver has lost control of the vehicle, it automatically applies certain brakes to regain stability.
Early ESC systems applied the brakes after a car lost control; modern systems are designed to prevent loss of control in the first place, instead of simply correcting after control is lost.
The first ESC systems were introduced in the 1980s. Today, ESC is widely used in a variety of vehicles, from luxury models to economy cars.
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
On older vehicles, sudden application of the brakes (such as to avoid an accident) could lead to the vehicle’s braking system locking up, causing it to lose contact with the road. ABS is a safety technology that prevents this from happening, ensuring a car doesn’t skid under heavy braking.
This means that when a driver needs to brake suddenly, such as to avoid crashing into another vehicle or a pedestrian, their car comes to a smooth, controlled stop instead of skidding out of control.
The first ABS systems were developed over 80 years ago for aircraft. Today, ABS is a standard safety feature that was made mandatory in 2004 by the European Union.
Forward Collision Warning
Forward collision warning technology uses all-weather radar, lasers, or a camera to detect any approaching vehicles and obstacles. If an obstacle is in front of the car, the system alerts the driver, giving them more time to respond and either prevent or lessen the severity of a crash.
Some forward collision warning systems are designed to automatically brake or steer when an obstacle is detected in front of the car, reducing the risk of a potentially fatal crash occurring.
Since 2003, forward collision warning has been a mandatory safety technology for all cars sold in the European Union.
Driving at night can be a risky activity; turning a sharp corner at night is a particularly dangerous process. Adaptive headlights increase visibility by turning their beams to look “into” each corner as you turn, giving you a better view of the road ahead.
Adaptive headlights were introduced in 2011. They’ve since become a popular feature on, for example, Ford’s higher-end cars.
Adaptive Cruise Control
Adaptive cruise control uses a forward-facing radar to detect the speed of vehicles ahead, using this data to adjust the speed and position of the car. As the car approaches other vehicles, ACC maintains a consistent distance to prevent accidents from occurring.
In heavy traffic, adaptive cruise control lets a vehicle adapt to the average road speed, even if its target speed is higher than this. As traffic thins out, the car will automatically accelerate to a safe speed while maintaining the preset distance from other vehicles.