The evolution of car safety technology is an exciting advance that has been driven by a number of factors over the years. The work of government mandates, activist groups and industry analysts has led to the introduction of everything from seat belts to lane departure warning systems.

Some of these technologies have directly led to significant reductions in accidents and accidents, while others have had mixed results. There is no doubt that the general car safety has greatly improved over the past few decades, but more than a few hits have been recorded along the way.

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Adaptive cruise control

Вид сзади спортивного автомобиля на закате езды

David Birkbeck/Getty Images

Adaptive cruise control combines a conventional cruise control system with a specific type of sensor. Most of these systems use radar or laser sensors that are able to determine the relative position and speed of other vehicles. This data can then be used to automatically adjust the speed of a vehicle equipped with adaptive cruise control.

Most adaptive cruise control systems also include some type of warning system if a collision is unavoidable, and some are capable of automatic braking. Some of these systems are also capable of operating in stop and go conditions, but most of them are deactivated at a certain minimum speed.

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adaptive headlights

Автомобили едут ночью

Newsbie Pix

Traditional headlights illuminate a fixed area in front of the car. Most systems have two settings, and the higher setting is designed to increase sight distance at night. However, high beams can be dangerous to oncoming drivers.

Adaptive headlight systems are able to adjust the brightness and angle of the headlights. These systems are able to tilt the beam to illuminate winding roads, and can also automatically adjust the brightness level to avoid dazzling other drivers.

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развернутая подушка безопасности

John Seidman / Flickr

Some technologies are designed to prevent accidents, but some vehicle safety features are designed to protect the driver and passengers during a collision. Airbags fall into the latter category, and they first appeared as standard equipment on certain makes and models in the US for the 1985 model year. As data accumulated over the next decade, it became clear that airbags save lives and lead to an overall increase in vehicle safety. According to NHTSA analysis driver deaths were reduced by 11 percent in vehicles that were equipped with airbags.

However, airbags have also been shown to pose a risk to young children. While this important safety feature has been shown to save the lives of front-seat passengers over the age of 13, younger children can be injured or killed by the explosive force of an airbag. For this reason, some vehicles have the option to disable the passenger airbag. In other vehicles it is safer for small children to just ride in the back seat .

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Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)

Автомобиль на беговой дорожке в салазках


The first anti-lock braking systems were introduced in the 1970s, and this technology is the main building block on which traction control, electronic stability control, and many other vehicle safety features are built.

The anti-lock brake system is designed to prevent the brakes from locking up by pulsing the brakes much faster than the driver can handle. Because locked brakes can cause longer stopping distances and loss of driver control, an anti-lock braking system greatly reduces the chance of certain types of accidents. This makes ABS an important safety feature for a car, but these systems do not reduce stopping distances under all driving conditions.

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Automatic collision alert

Аварийный персонал вызван в действие на месте акцента.

Official images of the United States Navy

Unlike technologies that help prevent accidents and systems that reduce injuries during accidents, automated collision alert systems go into action after the fact. These systems are designed to call for help automatically, as many accident victims cannot do so manually.

When the automatic collision alert system is activated, failures are usually reported to emergency services. Help can be sent automatically, or accident victims can talk to an operator.

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Automatic braking

тормозной диск и суппорт


Automatic braking systems are designed to either avoid collisions or slow down a vehicle before a collision. These systems use sensors to scan for objects in front of the vehicle and may apply the brakes if an object is detected.

This safety feature is often integrated with other technologies such as pre-collision systems and adaptive cruise control.

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Redundant sensors and cameras

резервный дисплей камеры

Jeff Wilcox / Flickr

The backup sensors are able to detect if there are any obstacles behind the vehicle when it is backing up. Some of these systems will alert the driver to the presence of obstacles, while others are connected to the automatic braking system.

Backup cameras provide a similar function, but they simply provide the driver with more visual information than rear-view mirrors.

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Electronic Stability Control (ECS)

Автомобили остановились на шоссе возле опрокидывания аварии

ted kerwin

Electronic Stability Control is another vehicle safety feature based on ABS technology, but these systems are designed to help the driver maintain control in a variety of circumstances. The main function of the ECS is to compare driver inputs with actual vehicle behavior. If one of these systems determines that the vehicle is not responding correctly, it can take a number of corrective actions.

One of the main circumstances where ECS can come in handy is when turning. If the ECS detects oversteer or understeer when the vehicle is turning into a corner, it is usually able to activate one or more brake calipers to correct the situation. Some ECS systems can also apply additional steering force and even modulate engine power.

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Lane Departure Warning Systems

Система предупреждения о выходе из полосы движения Audi

Audi of America

Lane departure warning systems fall into one of two categories. Passive systems issue a warning if the vehicle begins to deviate from its lane and the driver must take corrective action. Active systems usually also issue a warning, but they may also apply the brakes or activate the power steering to keep the vehicle in its lane.

Most of these systems use video sensors, but there are some that use laser or radar sensors. Regardless of the type of sensor, these systems cannot work if the lane markings are hidden due to adverse conditions.

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The night vision

Камера ночного видения на приборной панели

Steve Jurvetson / Flickr

Automotive night vision systems are designed to help drivers avoid obstacles in adverse driving conditions. These systems usually include an LCD mounted somewhere on the dash, although some have head-up displays.

There are two main types of automotive night vision systems. One type uses a thermographic camera that senses heat, while the other uses an infrared light source to illuminate the area in front of the car. Both systems provide improved viewing distance at night.

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Tire pressure monitoring

Системы контроля давления в шинах OEM отображают давление для каждой шины на приборной панели

AJ Batac/Flickr

Tire pressure can affect gas mileage, so tire pressure monitoring systems can provide some pressure relief to the pump. However, these systems can also perform vehicle safety functions to help prevent accidents. Because tire pressure monitoring systems can give early warning that a tire is losing pressure, drivers can take action before a flat tire causes a potentially catastrophic loss of control.

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Traction Control Systems (TCS)

Трелёвка Mini Cooper в дождь

DH Parks / Flickr

Traction control is essentially ABS in reverse. Where anti-lock brakes help the driver maintain control during braking, traction control helps prevent loss of control during acceleration. To do this, the ABS wheel sensors are usually checked to determine if any wheels have broken under acceleration.

If the traction control system determines that one or more wheels have lost traction, it can take a number of corrective actions. Some systems can only actuate the brakes, but others are able to change the fuel supply or cut off the spark in one or more of the engine’s cylinders.

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