Car safety has improved in leaps and bounds over the last century. In the beginning, safety was merely an afterthought: the first petrol-powered vehicles were without seatbelts, crumple-zones, or any real regard for the wellbeing of drivers and passengers!
Today, however, safety is one of the most important considerations for automotive designers and manufacturers. Incredible improvements to safety roll off the production line with each new model. Read on to learn more about how car safety has improved over the years.
Even the safest car can get into trouble sometimes. If you need panel beating, get in touch with our team at Sheen and we'll get your vehicle back on the road pronto.
Why have cars been getting safer throughout history?
Car-crash related fatalities remain one of the highest preventable causes of death. However, improvements made to car safety saves millions of lives. There has been a sustained focus on car safety, and this has paid dividends with technological advancements that have made cars safer.
Practically every car on the road today is equipped with safety features like:
- Seat belts
- Optimised window placement for improved visibility
- Crumple zones
And to think, only a few years ago, absolutely none of those safety features would have come standard on a vehicle.
How is car safety tested and measured?
Engineers are constantly designing new safety measures to protect people in case of a crash, but how do we know if they work?
There are many independent testing agencies across the world that determine the efficacy of a car's safety features. New automobiles are designed to meet the specifications of organisations like ANCAP (Australasian New Car Assessment Program) and Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme), who then perform stringent testing.
ANCAP, for example, undertakes many tests such as:
- Side impact tests
- Oblique pole tests
- Whiplash tests
- Frontal offset tests
- Full width frontal tests
As a result of those tests, ANCAP scores cars with star ratings for things like:
- Adult occupant protection
- Child occupant protection
- Vulnerable road user protection
- Safety assist
How have car safety features affected society?
Changes to car safety requirements, and an increased focus on safety overall, have seriously altered society. Activities like drink driving and driving without a seatbelt — activities that, if not the norm, were at very least far more common a generation ago — are now taboos.
Of course, the biggest change to our society is that the seriousness of many car accidents has been minimized thanks to the safety improvements. People are walking around today — unharmed — having experienced car accidents that would have been fatal in older, unsafe vehicles.
Our society has also changed to encourage more and better safety features in cars. Government bodies now have strict safety regulations to ensure that manufacturers are making sure that cars meet minimum safety standards. Additionally, testing facilities see to it that any problems with equipment that might make cars less safe — like faulty airbags — are recalled as quickly and efficiently as possible.
How have car headrests changed over time?
It's hard to imagine in this day and age, but car seat headrests haven't always been mandatory in automobiles. Until the 1960s, car seat headrests were considered to be a luxury, and it cost extra money to have them installed in a vehicle.
Only later was it discovered that car headrests could prevent whiplash and a litany of other unpleasant accident-related issues. Today, they come standard with all commercially available vehicles.
How do modern cars compare to the safety of older cars?
There are so many safety benefits on modern cars compared to older cars, it can be difficult to know where to start. The most recent innovation has come from the proliferation of camera, screen, and sensor technology.
Many of the breakthroughs of the past focused on harm minimisation in case of an accident — think of things like seatbelts, crumple zones, and airbags, for example. However, the screens and sensors today focus on harm prevention: blind spot indicators and alarms help people to change lanes safely, and rearview cameras make reversing far safer than it has ever been.
At Sheen Panel Service, safety comes first. With an expert team of panel beaters ready to tend to your needs, we have the ability to restore a wide variety of vehicles. If your car has been involved in an accident, we can provide outstanding panel beating.