Driving is getting safer and safer, even while there are more and more cars on the roads. This is due to an array of different factors from better driver’s education to better policing to better and more robust cars and driving aids. Here are 5 ways modern cars help protect their drivers and make sure they don’t end up in the back of an ambulance or in the back of a police car with no more license or DVLA number
Is now seems crazy that there was a time when seatbelts were not mandatory in cars. But that time was fairly recent – wearing a seatbelt in the front only become law in 1983, and in the back in 1991. Yet in that time it has saved countless lives by stopping occupants being thrown through the windscreen or coming out of the car in a collision.
The other main safety feature in modern cars beyond seatbelts are the airbags. Now fitted as standard, the systems are becoming more and more comprehensive. Early systems had airbags only for the driver, to prevent injury through impact with the steering wheel. However further enhancements have led to passenger-side airbags becoming standard and now side and pillar airbags being fitted more commonly. From the initial impact that triggers the sensors on the outside of the car, to full inflation of the airbags inside and the occupants becoming cocooned in a wall of air takes about 0.04 seconds.
3. Lane monitoring
Lane monitoring of a sort has been around for a long time. Rumble strips in the outside of lanes on the motorway vibrate the steering wheel and make a loud rumbling’ noise as the car passes over them, alerting the driver (either awake and inattentive or even possibly asleep) that they are leaving the lane and the road. More modern cars have incorporated lane-monitoring technology into the car multiple sensory systems. Cameras looking ahead of the car track the white lines on the road and then give warnings, either audible or tactile (a la the rumble strip) if the car is slowly veering out of the lane, as opposed to a purposeful lane change. Some cars will even correct the steering if they feel the driver is not correcting it themselves, pulling the car back into lane.
4. In-car cameras
Cameras mounted to the front and back of cars are becoming common not only of high-end luxury cars, but also with mass-market, mainstream models. Cameras mounted backward can significantly help parking as the driver can look at the display and see how far they are from the car behind. Cameras looking forward can alert the driver to oncoming dangers, with some capable of seeing in the dark, illuminating the road ahead using infrared and showing nighttime hazards.
5. In-car sensors
Beyond cameras, cars may now be fitted with laser range finders or radar, sweeping the road ahead and working out the proximity of the driver’s car to all others on the road. This allows the car to latch on to a car in front during cruise control and making sure if the front car slows or stops suddenly, the following car does to.