Since the early 20th century, when the automobiles were invented there have been millions of road accidents claiming millions of lives and millions of dollars vehicle from collision damage. Many of these accidents require the cars to be trashed in the junkyard for parts. Some accidents are lucky enough to impact minimum collision damage to vehicles that can be repaired and placed for resale in car show rooms. However, the price of these vehicles depreciate some quarter of the original price for the new buyer. The new buyer also pays high insurance fees and maintenance cost based on make, model, mileage and conditions of these vehicles. Manufacturers are least to blame for careless driving or unfortunate circumstances that lead to most major accidents since there is no safety feature or material in the world that can stop metal and glass from penetrating bare human body. Even Kevlar vests are only effective to some extent against bullets or metal projectiles that hit at high velocity. According to research, when a cadaver is tested with accelerometers for human brain strength, it can take a force of 400 G’s or tonne and half for less than thousandths of a second before getting crushed. Most accident impacts last much longer than that either due to drunk driving, sleepy drivers, distracted drivers, bad weather, extreme road and traffic conditions etc. Since the early 60’s manufacturer’s have introduced all kinds of safety features to protect drivers from collision damage. Before cadavers, even apes and other animals were used to study internal organ injury from impact and design safety features. When a car hits an object, “the body goes flying”, “brain crashes inside the skull” and “organs crash inside the rib cage” due to high velocity. As a result, whiplash studies were carried out to study head impacts, neck and chest impacts and design safety features as per observation, conclusion and analysis. Some of these safety features are as follows:
First of all, one of the safety features that have been designed and modified are steering columns. Steering columns were designed to absorb crash damage “at a force level that would not break ribs”. Then, windshields have been modified since the early automobiles. In the early days, windshield were made of glass without any sort of impact protection which would lead to glass flying towards driver’s seat as a high velocity projectile in an accident. Now the windshields are made of “laminated safety glass” with plastic lamination between 2 sheets of curved glass for impact resistance. Next, the “tow point belt system” across lap were replaced by 3 point belt system solution. The lap shoulder belt was designed after observations from the whiplash studies. Animal experiments confirmed that the rate of air bags deployment during impact also damaged heart. Since then, airbags deployment standards have been improved. Also, side impacts were studied to have the most fatalities since the safety features are no good when the “metal (6 inches apart) impacts a 3000 to 4000 pound force to upper torso within 20 milliseconds”. It took about 10 years to develop a dummy for side impact studies which resulted in to door padding as a safety feature. With new advances in science and technology, new safety features are constantly designed and improved for a safe ride.
Though manufacturers have a long list of safety features in all vehicles, it is up to the vehicle consumers or the drivers to keep themselves and everyone else on the road safe in one piece. With emergency roadside assistance to air support for extreme crashes, drivers have a long list of services to keep them on the road and keep traffic flowing in case of an unfortunate accident. Consumer products also play a key role in keeping the roads safe and drivers covered. From collision damage insurance to auto trader to sell cars involved in collision, from CAA memberships to rental cars and from Bluetooth to apps all are services to give drivers and vehicle owners a sense of relief. Nevertheless, accidents are common phenomenon. From kitchen accidents that result to fire to slip & fall accidents that result to fractures, accidents do happen from time to time and so research on consumer products and protection is on the rise.