This site is all rights reserved 2013 by Michael Moran - Certified Instructor

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Car safety features to create a safer car

The steel used in manufacturing cars today is much stronger than steel of days gone by. The design of automobiles has come a long way and with it, technology to improve driver safety. But what good is it, if the driver of today doesn’t know how to fully benefit from advances in the modern automobile. Statistically, it shows that drivers don’t know about their cars safety features or proper usage.

Modern vehicles are now offering a variety of high-tech safety features and driver assistance technology designed to prevent crashes. Surprisingly, most people that have them or rent a vehicle with them either don’t know how these devices work or don’t know how to properly use them. In any event, if you don't know how they work or properly use them, you could be inviting an accident to occur.

“Automakers and others play a greater role in educating motorists about the technology available in the vehicles they purchase,” said Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “AAA also urges drivers to take charge of learning their vehicle technology’s functions and limitations in order to improve safety on the road.”

As I inform my students, the law requires the driver to be in control of the vehicle at all times with some exceptions. New vehicle safety technology is designed to make driving safer, but it does not replace the important role each of us plays as the driver behind the wheel.

I was invited to attended a safety workshop seminar and participated as an unscheduled speaker. When I asked by show of hands how many individuals ever read up on the car's safety devices and actually see how they work, wasn’t surprised by the lack of raised hands. When buying a new or used car, ask the dealer questions to be sure you understand what the vehicles safety features will and will not do. According to my research, only about half of the drivers who purchased a new car from a dealership recalled being offered training on the new technology. If a feature that you are unsure of is listed on the Monroney label (better known as the window sticker) or mentioned by the salesman, ask questions to better understand its need and benefits.

Not understanding advanced driver assistance systems can lead to misusing or over-reliance and could result in a deadly crash. More and more, drivers are recognizing the value in having vehicles with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Many of these technologies are being offered as standard equipment and many drivers are unaware of the safety limitations of ADAS in their vehicles. ADAS systems can, when used properly, make your driving safer. The lack of educating drivers about the limitations of these devices and how to properly use them is becoming a bigger problem.

Some of the more common accident avoidance and advanced driver assistance systems in vehicles:

  • Automatic Emergency Braking

  • lane-centering assist

  • lane departure warning

  • lane keeping assist

  • rear cross-traffic warning

  • pedestrian Detection/pedestrian safety system.

  • (1) Blind Spot Detection

  • (2) Adaptive cruise control

(1)  About 25 percent of drivers felt comfortable that blind-spot systems would pick up pedestrians and traffic,

       so they didn't do visual checks or look over their shoulder for oncoming traffic or pedestrians.

(2)   Adaptive cruise control (ACC) is an available cruise control system for road vehicles that automatically 

       adjusts the vehicle speed to maintain a safe distance from vehicles ahead.

Learning how to drive defensively makes sense, but accidents can and will happen. Today’s technologies try to prevent accidents before they occur (active driving safety), while others better protect passengers and occupants (passive driving safety) when a crash does occur. Most vehicle owners never heard of or vaguely understand what there all about.

Active driving safety refers to devices and systems that help keep a car under control and prevent an accident. These devices are usually automated to help compensate for human error -- the single most causes of accidents.

Passive driving safety refers to systems in the car that protect the driver and passengers from injury without any action on their part if an accident does occur.

Today’s development of newer technology seems to be focusing more on active driving safety technology and shifting away from passive driving safety.

Now, for some of the more commonly know safety features. Most are not aware of their function to maximize safety and control.

  • Telescopic Steering column allows the steering wheel distance to be adjusted to the driver’s need to increase comfort and better use of the steer wheel.  

  • Adjustable Seatbelt anchors (upper for the shoulder belts). Adjustable anchors help position the belt across the chest instead of the neck to prevent neck injuries.

  • Tire Pressure Monitoring systems. Electronic system that monitors the air pressure inside the tire in real-time. Are you confident you can detect a slow leak while driving before something bad happens?

  • Anti-lock braking systems. Continuously adjusts the brake pressure separately at each wheel to maximize the available traction, while also giving the driver the ability to steer freely around an obstacle without any loss in stability.

  • (3) Airbags. A secondary safety device to the seatbelt. Can maim an individual if not seated properly around the airbag and wearing a seatbelt. Airbags can kill or severely cause injury. Have you ever seen a driver seating extremely close to the steering wheel or with a pet on their lap while driving?

  • Intergraded Spotter Mirror. A convex spot mirror built into the side mirror/mirrors aimed directly at the vehicle's blind spot area.

See red arrow in picture to show Intergraded Spotter Mirror 

(3)   While airbags have saved thousands of lives, they also have the potential to cause injury or even death to children

        or to occupants who aren’t using a seatbelt.

Something to remember: Snow, Dirt and poor weather can impede sensors ability to properly function as well as not having the system recalibrated when a sensor in the system is replaced.