These days, cars can be thought of as computers with wheels. Much less mechanical in nature, modern cars are equipped with a whole host of technical advancements that make them much safer than their antiquated relatives.
With onboard processors to help calculate journeys, fuel efficiency, and even manage our entertainment, there’s a lot of new tech in the cockpit to keep us occupied.
Even better, these enhancements have also led to the development of greater safety features that serve one sole purpose: to keep us safe. However, with so many pieces of kit available, it can be easy to get lost in a sea of terminologies and acronyms.
If you’ve ever wondered exactly how your car is making you a better driver, keep reading as we explain some of the most common modern car safety systems available today.
Admittedly, immobilisers aren’t the most recent development in terms of car safety. That being said, they are a critical part of keeping your vehicle away from the grasp of thieves. Tied to an electronic fuse onboard the car’s computer, immobilisers help prevent car theft by locking down all remote access to the car’s engine. This means that your car will not start up, the wheels will not turn, and zero signs of life will be detected.
Usually tied to an alarm system, these immobilisers are activated the moment they detect suspicious behaviour and can only be deactivated through the use of an original key fob that’s paired to your car at the point of manufacture. While immobilisers won’t keep you safe, they’ll certainly keep your car in your possession for much longer.
As the saying goes, nobody’s perfect. Driving in a straight line for an extended period is a rather difficult task, especially when driving a new car that you’re unfamiliar with.
Cruise control is helpful here, giving us one less thing to think about on an open stretch of road, but sometimes, we all veer off to the left or right without intention. Luckily, car manufacturers have acknowledged this and given motorists a well-needed upgrade: lane assist.
Lane assist is powered by a mixture of machine learning and cameras placed outside of your vehicle. When your car detects that it is being driven in between a set of lines, or within a motorway lane, it will prevent you from veering off by taking control over the steering wheel for a few seconds. Could this be the end to scuffed alloy wheels we’ve all been waiting for?
At this point, airbags are a standardised piece of equipment that is required to be installed within every new car used in the UK. Airbags are quite literally bags of air that are neatly packed away within your car’s dashboard and seats that inflate the second they detect a sudden jolt of movement, like in the event of a crash.
Modern airbags are linked to a crash detection sensor located somewhere in your car. Prior to airbags, us humans would have no other cushioning in place to save us from severe bodily harm on impact. So, it’s worth making sure yours are primed and ready at your car’s next service.
Anti-lock brakes (ABS)
Nowadays, ABS is something we all take for granted. However, there was in fact a time when getting our cars to stop was much less simple.
Modern braking systems apply gradual, continuous braking force to our car’s wheels. This prevents abrupt stops and avoids skidding issues when compared to traditional brakes. This is all handled under technology called an anti-lock braking system (ABS). Despite its wide availability, there are some cars on the road that don’t utilise ABS, and you’ll be able to pick them out nearly instantly.
In a newer car, braking should feel smooth and gradual, almost like it isn’t happening at all. In a car without ABS, the situation couldn’t be more different. Clunky, sudden shuddering movements are all synonymous with these types of cars, and the safety risks are numerous. Fortunately, cars with ABS are all too common these days, so you’d be hard pressed to find a motor with poor braking capabilities.
Unfortunately, vehicle theft is a real problem for motorists across the world. Let’s face it, our cars are sitting ducks from time to time. If they’re not secured, the chances of theft can increase exponentially. Not only is vehicle theft a major inconvenience, but it can also be a costly wound to fix both in money and time.
To help with this, theft alarms have been invented as a keen deterrent to alert both car owners and the authorities that someone is up to no good. Much like immobilisers, vehicle alarms are activated the second they detect any unauthorised activity going on within the car, such as within locking systems or when certain sensors are tripped.
While our cars’ wheels do a good job at keeping vehicles firmly planted to the floor, sometimes, they need a bit of extra help. Working in tandem with the differential and driveshaft, traction control is a computer operated set of instructions that gets passed to the engine to help rectify skids and restore balance to a car’s wheels.
Traction control isn’t directly built into the mechanical elements used by a car to control skids, rather, it is an added layer of security that kicks in when other systems have failed to restore order. It can be thought of as a form of auto-pilot, with the car being able to alter engine revs and braking percentages as needed.
Manoeuvres are hard, everybody knows that. Manipulating a large car through a tight space can sometimes feel like performing surgery where margins for error are razor thin. As an added helping hand, parking sensors are available on nearly every new car these days to give road users an audible nudge when something isn’t right.
They can be activated by engaging the reverse gear or brought up manually by the driver in some scenarios. When your car gets a bit too close for comfort to a wall or, god forbid, someone else’s car, a beeping noise can be heard that increases in speed the closer you get. All of this tells you that there’s nowhere else to go and you can relax.
At this point, it feels like seatbelts have been in our cars since their inception, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Seatbelts were introduced in 1959 after being invented by Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin as a means of protecting passengers in the event of a crash.
Their concept is simple: strap passengers in as close as possible to a seat to keep them from getting injured, but it’s not that straight forward. So as to not restrict movement in normal driving conditions, seat belts come equipped with a pull-detection mechanism that identifies when they need to be engaged. If a certain amount of energy is applied to the seatbelt, they seize up, preventing movement and keeping everyone secure.
Is safety your priority?
When driving, security is an important feeling. As great as it feels to be independent and free inside a new car, your safety should never be overlooked.
At findandfundmycar.com, we have thousands of safety-checked vehicles just waiting to be picked. Stocked by trusted dealers across the country, there’re plenty of used cars available in a place that works for you.