Today’s vehicles are fitted with passive safety systems to protect occupants and other road users should a crash occur, and also active safety technologies to prevent accidents from happening.
Passive safety systems have played a major role in casualty reduction. Technologies and design measures that limit the effect of a crash may be taken for granted today, but without improvements, like pre-tensioned seatbelts, airbags and curtains, and energy-absorbing crumple zones, the death toll on roads would be far greater. Most vehicles now gain a maximum 5-star rating on EuroNCAP crash tests, and passive safety is reaching a level of maturity. More recently, attention has turned from occupants to vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists, with improvements in front-end design such as softer bonnets or collapsible mirrors. Passive safety systems are only effective if vehicle occupants are wearing safety belts, which means that seat-belt reminder systems are also particualrly important.
Research and development in active safety has also increased. Technologies designed to prevent an accident taking place, rather than mitigating its effect, like Anti-Lock Brake Systems (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) are widely fitted as standard to today’s cars and light commercial vehicles.
Systems referred to as Advanced Driver Assistant Systems (ADAS) are also increasingly common. These use sensors, radar and video imaging to monitor the surroundings of the vehicle. Blind spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane departure warnings are examples of ADAS in-use today.
In the years ahead, further technological breakthrough will come through interaction between vehicles and the infrastructure. Successfully implementing these Intelligent Communication Technologies (ICT) will play a major role in driving casualties down further, and the automobile industry is working to make this happen.