Car Safety Features Explained

15 September 2021 Blog

When it comes to buying your next car one question that can often be overlooked is one of the most important – how safe is it?

Safety in cars is something that’s grown more and more important through the years – as cars get bigger and packed with more technology it’s no surprise that the safety features are becoming more and more advanced.

 

The Humble Seatbelt

We couldn’t write about car safety features, and not give  a special mention to the humble seatbelt. One of the earliest car safety features to hit the market, you’ll be surprised to hear that there was once a time when seatbelts weren’t mandatory! You could happily climb into your car and pop to the shops with no thought of how safe your journey would be.

Seeing the inevitable danger of this, Volvo’s top engineers set to making the 3 point seatbelt – all the way back in 1959. This invention is widely regarded as being the greatest change in motoring safety. Best of all, Volvo gave the patent for this technology free – saving countless lives over the years.

Though car safety features have come a long way since then, it’ll soon be the case that futuristic safety features become commonplace in new cars – just like the seatbelt. We’ve made a handy list of some of the latest features to hit the market and what they might mean for you.

 

Curtain Airbags

Though they’ve been around for a few years, there are still some questions around what these are and why they can be important.

Curtain airbags sit either side of the car hidden in the roof lining over the windows either side. Designed to stop any head injuries in the event of an accident, the curtain airbags will deploy avoiding any contact with the frame of the car due to a sudden impact.

 

Collision Avoidance

There are several different terms for this – with each manufacturer choosing to call this whatever term they feel is most fitting for this life saving tech.

Using complex front sensors similar to those used by adaptive cruise control, the car can detect an incoming threat in front of the vehicle. If the car detects a threat, it’ll normally notify the driver with an audible warning, as well as a flashing message on the dashboards. If the driver still fails to stop the car in time the car will often apply the brakes bringing the car to a sudden stop – all with the aim of avoiding an impact.

There are many ways this works, depending on the manufacturer you are buying from. We’d recommend checking before you buy your new car.

 

Lane Keep Assist

Often split into two different types of safety equipment, Lane Keep Assist and Lane Change Alert are both ideal for those long motorway trips where a simple distraction can cause your eyes to leave the road.

With Lane Change Alert, a series of cameras will spot the car moving across lanes and issue a visual and audible warning to let the driver know they’ve strayed off their course.

The difference with Lane Keep Assist is that the car will steer the vehicle back into its lane if it notices the car beginning to veer out if its lane.

 

Rear Cross Traffic Alert

Ideal for those who live on busy roads, rear cross traffic alert is designed to make it easier to reverse your car into a road where oncoming traffic may make this dangerous.

Using a series of cameras and sensors, the car can detect if a vehicle is coming from either direction as you begin to reverse, giving an audible warning that lets you know a car is approaching.

 

Blind Spot Monitoring

One of the more recent features to enter the market, Blind Spot Monitoring is particularly effective for larger cars or those with limited visibility.

A set of sensors mounted on the rear quarter of the car combined with sensors in the wing mirrors alert when a car is entering your blind spot, helping prevent you changing lanes and colliding with a fellow driver.

Often a visual warning will appear in the wing mirror glass to let you know there’s a car approaching.

 

Adaptive Cruise Control

Though not considered a safety feature by some, Adaptive Cruise Control has helped limit the number of accidents on motorways from drivers not paying attention when following the flow of traffic.

Using advanced laser technology the car can detect a moving vehicle in front, and match the speed of your car to the traffic… whilst also allowing you to stick to the speed limit. When the vehicle is in Cruise Control mode it will slow down if it detects the vehicle in front is slowing, some cars can even slow all the way to a stop.

 

ABS

ABS has been around for over 100 years, referring to Anti-Lock Brakes. This system uses the vehicles brakes to ‘massage’ the brake discs periodically under braking to ensure the vehicle stops without sliding.

In older cars if a heavy load was placed on the brakes the brake pads would stick to the discs causing the car to skid forward rather than stop directly. The introduction of ABS allowed much shorter stopping distances for cars, especially in wet weather.

 

Pedestrian Detection

Similar to the Forward Collision Warning available in some cars, Pedestrian Detection uses sensors to anticipate pedestrians who may have strayed in front of the car. Using the vehicle’s forward-facing camera or laser, it will warn the driver of an imminent collision and in some cases also apply the brakes to bring the car to a swap without injuring the pedestrian.

 

Adaptive Headlights

There are several versions of this tech available depending on manufacturer. It’s common now to find cars fitted with Automatic Headlights that turn on when the car senses the roads are getting darker.

In recent years this tech has developed into a few more practical features, such as Adaptive High Beam Assist. This function allows the headlights to alternative between dipped beam and main beam when the car sees oncoming traffic, when there are no other cars on the road the headlights will automatically switch to high beam giving you the best visibility possible.

Mercedes recently launched a new feature called Digital Headlights, which can project a symbol, such as the speed limit, onto the road in front of the driver.

 

Looking For A Safer Car?

Browse our choice of nearly new cars, fitted with the latest in safety features. All our cars are under warranty so you can buy with added peace of mind. If you'd prefer, visit your nearest store where you can browse at your leisure and even take one out for a test drive!