Car Safety Features: Airbags, Anti-Lock Brakes, Seatbelts, and More

There are a lot of pieces to the car safety puzzle, and each new car is different. More safety features have been considered necessary in recent years and are included in almost new vehicle builds. Things like anti-lock brakes, airbags, and electric stability control are just a few.

Airbags are one of the most important modern car safety features

Car safety features like airbags, seatbelts, and more
A crash test dummy on display | Felix Kästle/picture alliance via Getty Images

According to the car safety features guide on Car & Bike, airbags are not new technology. However, the variety and number of airbags in any car are new. Airbags were only made a legal necessity in 1998, which seems like long ago. But now, new cars have airbags all over the vehicle to protect everyone.

“Airbags come in a variety of configurations, including adaptive, dual-stage, and curtain, but curtain airbags are the most successful in keeping passengers safe in an accident.”

Car & Bike

These new airbags use sensors all over the front, sides, and rear of the car to determine when to inflate. All airbags work together to keep the driver and passengers in position to prevent head or other injuries.

Anti-lock brakes help avoid wheel lock up

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Anti-lock brakes seem like something that has always been a part of new cars. However, it is only in recent times that anti-lock brakes were deemed necessary. The ABS helps avoid wheel-lock-up by maximizing each individual brake’s braking. That makes it easier to control the steering and braking in situations where hard braking might be necessary. ABS might not get mentioned as much these days because this car safety feature is so well integrated into the production.

Seatbelts or safety belts are important to keep passengers in the right position

The seatbelt, or safety belt, is modern car safety technology at work. The lap belt and the diagonal piece of the seatbelt work together to keep passengers in the correct position during an accident. That works along with the airbag to help maximize the effectiveness of both devices. The force limiters and pre-tensioners help limit the force that an accident might exert on a passenger’s chest.

LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) help keep children safe

The LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system is a new universal car safety system to keep child seats in place. Modern child safety seats work in tandem with the LATCH system to make installation easier and safer. Since most modern cars have this system, it encourages the correct installation of safety devices like the safety seat. However, this system isn’t combative in all situations. If you have a child or multiple children in car seats and are looking for a new car, it is best to test fit before buying.

Electronic stability control is also important for car safety

Electronic stability control (ECS) is more involved than traction control. The ECS system helps keep the car on track without sliding or skidding. This is especially important in inclement weather like snow or rain. ESC detects the angle, speed, and motion using several sensors. If those sensors detect that the vehicle is sliding or skidding off its intended path, it attempts to bring it back on track. This is extra helpful in top-heavy cars like SUVs and trucks.

While you used to have to pay extra for some of these components, all of the car safety features listed here are included standard on new cars in the U.S. More advanced safety features such as lake-keep assist, automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection are not standard yet, but automakers are getting there.

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