The Evolution of Car Safety: 15 Innovations That Saved Lives

If you stop to think about it, getting in a metal object and traveling around other metal objects at 80 miles per hour is pretty wild. It sounds like a recipe for disaster. Still, it is an activity most of us do daily.

Luckily, car safety features have become more advanced over the years. Technology under the hood and in the cabin helps us avoid distractions and other drivers on the road. Let's take a look at some of the innovations that have made cars much safer over the past several decades.

1. Lane Departure Warnings

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Lane departure warning sensors detect when the vehicle touches a lane marker or slightly alters its course. The vehicle will try to alert the driver via a steady beep, flash, or combination of both. This feature has been proven to prevent accidents caused by distracted driving and falling asleep at the wheel. The simple use of the alarm allows drivers to put their focus back on the road, where it belongs.

2. Driving Mode on Phones

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Distracted driving is one of the quickest ways to get into an accident. In fact, according to National Highway Traffic Safety, 8% of crash-related deaths in the United States in 2020 involved a distracted driver. The addition of cell phones has made this an even bigger issue than it previously was.

With phones in driving mode, calls, texts, and news alerts are blocked until the mode is turned off. When the car is stopped, you can turn the notifications back on. This encourages drivers to keep their eyes on the road and away from the phone.

3. Crash Detection

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Crash detection technology has been advancing over the past decade. The new technology on the Apple iPhone 14 is designed to detect four types of vehicle crashes: front, side, rear, and rollover. This feature also alerts emergency medical personnel if there is a crash. The vital minutes it takes to get life-saving professionals to the scene can save countless lives in the future.

4. Blind Spot Detection

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Blind spot detection has increasingly become a standard feature in most new cars. The technology uses radar, cameras, or other sensors on the car's sides to alert drivers to the presence of another vehicle in their blind spot. The term “blind spot” is called that for a reason: You can't see what is there. This new feature gives you eyes all around your vehicle, helping drivers stay safe and avoid sideswipes.

5. V2V Communication

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V2V stands for vehicle-to-vehicle communication, which is becoming increasingly common in newer vehicles. Essentially, this new technology allows cars to talk to each other. These cars can alert others to their whereabouts, speed, and direction. This is extremely beneficial when visibility is poor due to weather, glare, or fog.

6. Smart Traffic Control Systems

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Smart traffic control systems is a feature that is keeping us safe by helping traffic run smoother and more organized. Historically, traffic lights have operated independently from the actual traffic flow, causing lights to stay red or green longer than needed. This can lead to excess traffic and road rage, which could result in accidents.

These new control systems use algorithms and cameras to help avoid congestion, keep lanes flowing, and provide safe options for pedestrians looking to cross the road.

7. Automatic Emergency Braking

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The addition of automatic emergency braking systems in cars has drastically helped avoid rear-end and front collisions. These AEB systems use sensors to alert drivers when they are approaching another vehicle, giving them adequate time to apply the brakes. The extra seconds can prevent minor fender benders that could lead to a more serious crash.

8. Car Telematics

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Car telematics are in-vehicle systems combining safety, navigation, and communication features. The idea is to allow drivers to use their apps hands-free.

Telematics can also use incentive-based safe driving to link with car insurance companies and lower premiums for safe drivers. The technology scores driving habits like speeding, sudden braking, phone usage, and other distracted driving behaviors. These studies have shown drivers are much more careful when they know they are being monitored.

9. Rear-View Cameras

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Rear-view cameras might not be saving lives, but they greatly reduce the annoying dings and dents caused by being unable to see when in reverse. These cameras can also help us avoid other cars and obstacles when backing into a parking spot, sensing oncoming cars or pedestrians walking in a blind spot.

10. Advanced Airbags

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The electronic sensor that sets off airbags was invented in 1968, and in 1998, these life-saving devices were mandatory in all new vehicles. The airbags deploy during a crash, allowing the driver and passengers to soften the blow of a violent collision.

Today, the placement of airbags has become much more advanced. They are now placed in both the front and back, as well as in the sidewalls, for collisions with the side doors.

11. Tire Pressure Systems

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One of the easiest ways to stay safe on the road is to have a set of tires properly inflated. Tires with low air pressure are hard to spot with the naked eye. Still, they can result in a tire blowout, which can be fatal at high speeds.

Luckily, newer vehicles come with monitors that alert drivers to low tire pressure. Stopping at a local gas station to fill up can keep you and your family safe on the road.

12. Adaptive Headlights

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Adaptive headlights were designed to help drivers reduce the risk of accidents at night, in fog, or in rainy weather when visibility is low. The adaptive lights change in specific conditions and speeds to provide the safest view possible. Visibility is key, and the addition of this technology has helped keep drivers safe and avoid collisions.

13. Seat Belt Tug

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Seat belts have been mandatory in vehicles for decades. Studies have shown that they are the foremost deterrent to avoid fatalities in car crashes.

The seat belt electronically tightens to keep you safe and in place. Without the seat belt tug, passengers could easily be ejected from the vehicle, causing serious bodily harm.

14. Anti-Lock Braking Systems

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The invention of anti-lock braking systems, or ABS, prevents wheel lockup during emergency braking, allowing drivers to maintain control in those crucial moments. This is vital when the road may be covered in snow or ice. If your brakes were to lock up, this could prevent the driver from steering, essentially losing control of the vehicle.

15. Crumple Zones

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A crumple zone, also known as a crash zone or crunch zone, is the area on a car that absorbs the impact of a crash. These zones deflect the energy of the collision and help keep the cabin safe.

You can thank the Mercedes-Benz engineers for this invention. The patent was given in 1941, and by the 1950s they were being implemented in the German cars. Today, the crumble zone is considered a standard feature. But, without it, cars would be much more dangerous than they are today.

Author: Adam Spraker

Adam Spraker is a Trending Topics writer known for such topics as music, sports, travel, and pop culture. He Recently relocated from Sunny San Diego to the Great Smokey Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina.

When he is not working, you can find him sipping on a craft beer at a ball game, hanging out with his pup Gilly, or searching for the best tacos in North Carolina.

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