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The Future of Modern Car Safety: How Your Next Car will Protect You

Car safety features have come a long way from mechanical seatbelts, all-steel bodies, and hydraulic brakes. Between 1997 and 2020, there have been 23,343 fewer motor vehicle fatalities reported by the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA). A huge part of this improvement can be attributed to a slew of new car safety features that were formerly only available in luxury automobiles but are now making their way into mass-market vehicles.

In this article, we will discuss how car safety technology has evolved over the years to keep drivers and passengers comfortable and away from harm.

  • SRS Airbags

  • Anti Lock Braking System

  • Advanced Driver Assistance Systems

  • Stability Control System

modern car safety illustration
  • Airless Tires

  • Biometric Sensors

  • Connected Cars

  • Augmented Reality Dashboards

future car safety illustration

Modern Car Safety Features

Modern cars today are equipped with different safety features to help drivers navigate the road better. There are basic safety features designed to mitigate the impact of a collision, as well as more advanced features designed to minimize human errors with the help of visual and audible warning signs. Let’s take a look at some of these existing technologies.

Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) Airbags

A 1998 federal law made supplemental restraint system (SRS) airbags mandatory for all cars and light trucks in the US. This is the reason why airbags are now standard for all modern passenger vehicles. A vehicle's crash sensors relay critical information to the airbag's electronic control unit (ECU) during a collision. The ECU evaluates data from the sensors and determines within milliseconds if it should deploy the vehicle's airbag modules. Here are some of the airbags used in modern cars and SUVs.

safety airbags
anti lock braking system

Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)

The anti-lock braking system (ABS) prevents wheels from locking up during hard braking situations. This lets drivers regain control of their vehicle while braking, so they can confidently maneuver around obstacles. The ABS monitors the speed of each wheel and applies brakes at the appropriate time in order to prevent wheel lockup and maintain traction on slippery roads. This generally reduces the stopping distance of ABS-equipped vehicles and reduces uncontrolled skidding.

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)

Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) consist of different driving applications designed to help drivers navigate a variety of situations. These computerized systems are intended to reduce the rate of vehicular accidents caused by human errors. Car manufacturers have developed their own proprietary driver assistance systems in order to make driving safer and easier. Here are some of the basic ADAS applications.

advanced driver assistance system
stability control system

Stability Control Systems

When a vehicle veers off the driver's intended path, the electronic stability control (ESC) kicks in. It guides the vehicle back to safety by utilizing the traction control and anti-lock braking systems. The ESC monitors the driver's steering, the vehicle's momentum, and the cornering forces that could cause the vehicle to spin out of control using a variety of sensors. In certain circumstances, rear or front brakes are applied. Some ESCs lower the engine's power output to improve driver control and reduce the risk of oversteering.

Future Car Safety Features

Remember when you had to ask people for directions? Now you can search for the nearest and most convenient route to your destination using the GPS in your car’s computer. This is a testament to how far automotive technology has come. There are many more safety features in development, but here are a few things we can expect to see in the near future.

Airless Tires

Airless tires represent a major advancement in tire technology from the past fifty years. They're honeycomb-shaped, with outer rings connecting to a series of polymer spokes. This design takes the automobile tire away from its pneumatic roots. Both Bridgestone and Sumitomo have come out with prototype designs, but Michelin has promised to deliver the first-ever 3D-printed airless tire to the market in 2024. Their demo video reveals a sturdy yet flexible prototype capable of going over road hazards without deflating. With this new technology, Michelin hopes to cut down on future tire waste.

airless tires
biometric sensors

Biometric Sensors

We tend to make mistakes when we’re angry, sad, sleepy, or stressed, and that carries over to the way we drive. Cars with biometric sensors keep track of your mood using facial recognition technology and sensors monitoring pulse, respiration, and sweat levels, to deliver a safer driving experience. Research scientists in Ford are currently developing new algorithms to detect varying states of drowsiness. Meanwhile, Toyota is developing its own smart car concept, which allows the driver to have back-and-forth conversations with their vehicle. The Japanese car manufacturer wants to turn cars from mere modes of transportation to objects of affection. Someday, we might see friendships form between humans and their cars.

Connected Cars

If you’ve ever used the internet to store and access your files, you’ve used the cloud. Almost everything is connected to the cloud these days: appliances, gadgets, and now cars. Connected vehicles are able to communicate with one another, download traffic information, and determine the most efficient routes to your destination. They can react to immediate information in their surroundings and access the cloud to predict traffic jams. This technology aims to cut down on human errors, which account for 81% of vehicle crashes. Lyft’s partnership with General Motors signals a big shift in future ride-hailing services. Soon, we might be able to book a self-driving taxi anywhere in the US.

connected cars
augmented reality dashboards

Augmented Reality Dashboards

Augmented reality (AR) has become part of the mainstream tech landscape in recent years. It provides an immersive experience with computer-generated visuals, audio, and other stimuli that you can interact with. Some smart phone apps have used this technology in photo filters and games. Given that augmented reality is one of the hottest tech trends to date, it's natural for automakers to investigate its application in the automotive space. Porsche and Hyundai have reportedly invested millions into developing their own AR integrated systems. This feature will turn the windshield into a giant heads-up display with overlaid text and graphical icons, similar to that of racing games. With the accessibility of smart furniture and apps, it won’t be long before AR-equipped cars hit showrooms.

Thanks to the efforts of car manufacturers, research scientists, and transportation safety agencies, car safety features have indeed come a long way. Millions of lives have been saved, and millions more will be saved as technology advances. Some of these newer features are already in the middle stages of development, so it won’t be long before we get to drive around in safer, more efficient vehicles.

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