Smart Car Technology is Saving Lives
June 7, 2012
Thanks to tougher testing and new technology our cars are now safer. It seems the auto manufacturers have been paying attention to the crash data studies and have begun to build cars that meet or exceed the crash safety standards for occupants. Newer cars are providing a greater level of safety in crashes and also providing new enhanced collision technology which up till now has not existed. The National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) identifies those vehicles that are equipped with this new technology on their website safeCar.gov.
These new crash avoidance technologies come in the following forms:
Electronic Stability Control(ESC); Senses when your vehicle is starting to lose control and helps you maintain control during extreme maneuvers. Automatically applies the brake to one or more of the wheels to turn your vehicle to the appropriate direction.
Forward Collision Warning(FCW); Alerts you when your vehicle is getting too close to another vehicle, allowing you to brake or steer, which can help avoid a crash.
Lane Departure Warning(LDW); Senses and monitors lane markings. It warns you when your vehicle is unintentionally drifting to another lane, or leaving the road altogether, potentially allowing you to steer back into your lane.
Starting with 2011 models, NHTSA introduced tougher testing along with much more stringent rating criteria for their 5-Star Safety rating system. It also recommends those vehicles that provide crash avoidance technologies. Because of the more stringent tests, ratings for 2011 and newer vehicles should not be compared to ratings for 1990-2010 models. The new test now incorporates a smaller dummy size to replicate a woman or teenager. NHTSA says its tests will also collect more data from extra sensors that are placed on the crash test dummies.
The Overall Vehicle 5 Star Score is based on how well a vehicle protects the occupants during frontal, side crash safety and rollover resistance. It has also added a new test, a side pole test, which simulates a crash involving stationary objects, like a tree or telephone pole. The score is simple, 5 stars means the car received the highest rating while1 star the lowest.
When it comes to being safe in our vehicles there are some simple and low tech options that should not be overlooked:
Proper Tire Pressure; Under inflated and over inflated tires are the leading cause of tire failure. Check your tires pressure once a month. Replace worn tires and make note of irregular wear, this could be a sign of wheel misalignment.
Maintain the Brakes; having effective brakes is critical to vehicle safety. Have your brakes inspected with every oil change will help to insure that they are in proper working order.
Coolant Level; Make sure you have enough coolant to withstand winter weather. When coolant freezes it expands and has the potential to damage your engine block. Usually a 50/50 mixture of coolant to water is sufficient for most regions of the country.
Seat Belts; Just wearing a seatbelt has shown to improve your chances of surviving a crash dramatically. In 2010 an estimated 12,546 lives were saved by the use of seatbelts. Enforcing the fact that seatbelts are life savers in a five year period from 2006 to 2010 seatbelts have saved over 69,000 lives. Fatalities in vehicle continue to decline. In 2011 an estimated 32,310 people died in vehicle traffic crashes down 1.7% from 2010. These fatalities are the lowest in record since 1949. Statistics show that traffic fatalities have been on a steady decline since a peak in 2005, decreasing by about 26% from 2005-2011.
These tougher standards continue to raise the bar for manufacturers. The end result is a benefit to us as consumers, providing us greater protection in our vehicles. The new label will appear on the Monroney label or window sticker as most of us call it. This new portion of the sticker will now present consumers with frontal crash, side crash, and rollover resistance safety ratings. Look for the new rating stickers on all new cars.