Automobiles are safer today than they have ever been before, largely thanks to the safety measures incorporated into their construction. These measures can be divided into two groups, depending on whether they are active or passive: active systems help prevent accidents before they occur, while the role of the passive safety systems is to protect the occupants during and after a collision.
When a new vehicle is designed, the manufacturer builds a main safety cell around the passengers, in order to help prevent intrusion into the passenger compartment. Then, to help cushion any impacts, the rest of the car is made out of crumple zones that slowly collapse in an accident to absorb energy and reduce deceleration. These parts of the passive safety system are tested by the NHTSA and IIHS in their crash testing.
Every car built today includes a number of other passive safety systems, including the obvious seatbelts and air bags. Some passive systems are less noticeable, but equally important. Front windshields are made from glass that is laminated to help prevent penetration and help the glass stay together if it gets broken, and the rest of the windows are made out of tempered safety glass that breaks into small dull pieces instead of sharp shards like normal glass. The fuel tank’s location and its protection, fuel pump shut-off switches, and even material choice and cargo restraints all play a part in passive safety.
Still, there’s always room for improvement. Let’s take a look at a few cars with some even more advanced passive safety features.