Vehicle safety technology may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but it is one of the most important. When you hear the old adage that cars are more dangerous than planes, it might be tempting to just write it off as hyperbole. But the thing is, really behind this claim costs serious science . The reality is that people die in car accidents every day and many times more people are injured, but with advances in technology, things are actually getting better.

According to NHTSA statistics in 1972 there were 26.9 deaths per 100,000 miles in the United States, but by 2017 that number had dropped to 12.4 per 100,000 miles.

Some of this reduction may be due to the stringent enforcement of drink driving laws and seat belts, but a large part of it is also due to significant advances in automotive technology and the steady adoption of these technologies across the industry.

Looking at the graph of car deaths over the years, you can clearly see the sharp decline associated with examples of legislation that forced the widespread adoption of various vehicle safety technologies.

With that in mind, here are the seven most important advances in automotive technology that could save your life someday:

from 07

Seat belts

two girls look upset and buckle up

Seat belts may not be fun, but advances like lap belts have saved countless lives.
Andreas Kuen / Image Bank / Getty

original technology : waist belts

Progress : shoulder straps, airbags, etc.

Why is it so important :

Seat belts are boring and pretty much universal, so it might not seem like they’re on this list. If you were born in or after the 1980s, there’s an even better chance you’ve never even driven a car that wasn’t equipped with this most important of all safety features.

There was a time when seat belts weren’t standard, and even when government regulations forced industry-wide adoption of this feature, the first lap belts were only a pale reflection of the modern safety features we enjoy today.

According to the CDC, seat belts save over 15,000 lives a year and since 1977 this safety technology has saved more than 260,000 lives. So while «click it or ticket» may be the driving force behind some people reluctantly choosing to buckle up, wearing a seatbelt may just be the single most important step you can take to avoid becoming a statistic on the NHTSA death chart.

from 07

Smart airbags


They put airbags everywhere these days.
Car Culture / Car Culture ® Collection / Getty

original technology : main airbags

Progress : smart airbags

Why is it so important :

Airbag technology suffered from bad press over the years. While airbags save lives, it’s undeniable that they can also be dangerous in some situations, and putting a child in the front seat of an old car equipped with an airbag can be fatal.

While airbags are still dangerous in certain circumstances, advances in airbag technology have actually made them much safer, less likely to cause injury, and even better at saving lives.

One of the most important advances is the smart airbag, which uses an array of sensors to determine when it’s unsafe to deploy. For example, if a smart airbag determines that an occupant is below a predetermined weight threshold, it will typically fail to deploy to avoid causing serious injury or death.

Other advances, such as side curtains and rollover airbags, can save your life in the event of a rollover by preventing you from being forced out of your vehicle.

from 07

adaptive headlights

oncoming headlights in a dark night corner

Traditional headlights do not illuminate the road when cornering.
Jared Aigabroad / EyeEm / Getty

original technology : fixed lights

Promotion : adaptive headlights

Why is it so important :

Some advances in automotive technology have been met with mixed results and unclear data, and adaptive headlights have been judging. There are clear indications that this technology could save your life under the right circumstances, but not strong enough to cause widespread adoption.

While adaptive headlights aren’t particularly useful during the day, studies have shown they are especially useful when you’re on the road at dusk. According to one study, vehicles equipped with adaptive headlights were involved in about 10 percent fewer accidents.

from 07

Adaptive cruise control

blurry photo of cars depicting high-speed driving

Adaptive cruise control can help prevent a high-speed accident if you’re disengaged or the brakes are checked.
Rich Legg/E+/Getty

original technology : manual cruise control

Progress : adaptive cruise control

Why is it so important :

The overwhelming perception of adaptive cruise control is that it’s nothing short of creature comfort, or just another excuse to be lazy on the road. And there is some truth in this, since using cruise control takes a lot of guesswork out of it. However, adaptive cruise control is also an invaluable safety technology that can help prevent high-speed collisions.

For example, if the car suddenly cuts you off, the adaptive cruise control is able to detect an obstacle and slow you down, and in some cases even stop your car. Of course, this brings us to the next potentially life-saving technology.

from 07

Collision avoidance and automatic brakes

elephant crosses the road in front of the car

So maybe the back end of an elephant is not something you are very worried about, but better than regretting later. Thank you automatic brakes!
Christopher Scott/Getty Images

original technology : based on anti-lock braking system and other systems

Progress : collision avoidance systems and automatic brakes

Why is it so important :

Sometimes human reactions are enough to avoid accidents, and sometimes not. When they’re not, collision avoidance systems are there to take up the slack.

These systems are often an extension of the same basic technology behind adaptive cruise control, in that some kind of forward-facing sensor is used to detect potential hazards at the front of the vehicle. In addition to looking for vehicles that have suddenly slowed down or cut themselves ahead, they also look for debris, large animals, and anything else you don’t want to run into.

When an accident is imminent, the basic collision avoidance system can sound an alarm to alert the driver, while one equipped with some type of automatic brake system, can pre-charge the brakes or even apply them.

Automatic braking systems are also useful in bringing emergency vehicles to a halt due to operator error or mechanical failure. For example, if the gas pedal gets stuck for any reason, the automatic braking system may be able to both apply the brakes and cut off the gas to prevent the car from spinning out of control.

from 07

Lane Departure Warning Systems

car went off the road into a ditch

I’m not trying to say that you will end up in a ditch if your car doesn’t have a lane keeping system, but you can end up in a ditch if you don’t have a lane keeping system in your car. Images

original technology : some similarities with adaptive cruise control

Progress : lane departure warning systems

Why is it so important :

While some drivers find lane departure warning systems annoying, this technology is absolutely life-saving. One of the most dangerous types of accidents you can experience is a rollover, and rollovers often occur as a natural part of off-road driving accidents where the vehicle veers off the road.

When the lane departure system detects that the vehicle is deviating from its lane, either in the direction of travel or off the road, it can either sound an alarm or take corrective action. Potentially annoying, but also potentially life-saving.

Some studies have shown that lane keeping systems cause more crashes than they prevent, generally due to imperfect interactions between these systems and drivers. As this technology develops and drivers feel more confident, this trend is likely to change.

from 07

Electronic stability control

Laughing woman upside down on a convertible

Flip the car very close to this entertainment in real life. Actually, it’s not fun at all. It’s extremely terrible.
Philip Lee Harvey / Taxi / Getty

original technology : built on anti-lock braking and traction control technologies

Progress : electronic stability control

Why is it so important :

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is perhaps the most important and life-saving technology behind seat belts. In fact, the only reason anti-lock brakes are now standard on all new cars is because new cars must include ESC.

In fact, if you want to buy a safer used car, The number one recommendation from the IIHS, in terms of safety technology, is search with electronic stability control. .

Of course, electronic stability control would be nothing without the right technology. anti-lock brakes and traction control systems which are inextricably linked to ESC.

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