Car manufacturers have long been working on how to save lives and minimise damage in road accidents. Modern vehicles have so many car safety features that it is sometimes difficult to grasp what they are and how they can help you. So, this is the time to learn about them and understand how they work.
7 car safety features to take notice
There are many safety systems in cars, but some are worth a closer look. These include:
- ABS – anti-lock braking system
- ESP – electronic stability program
- BLIS – blind spot information
- ICC – keep a safe distance
- TC, TCS – traction control
- AFIL – lane departure warning system
- BAS – brake assist.
ABS – anti-lock braking system
The most commonly used car safety system that helps prevent accidents and protect the driver and passengers is the ABS (Antilock Braking System). It is considered an essential piece of car equipment today. Its primary function is to prevent the wheels from slipping during (sudden) braking.
Without ABS, hard braking can result in the coefficient of friction between the tyre and the tarmac (or any road surface) being lower than the maximum adhesion. That means that sometimes you exert so much force on the system that the brake directly locks the wheel, and the wheel stops rolling, slipping on the road instead.
To prevent that, the ABS detects which wheel is sliding and, using solenoid valves, modulates the pressure in that wheel’s circuit. In this way, the tyres always keep better contact with the road and braking efficiency is much improved.
ESP – Electronic Stability Program
ESP is an electronic stability system that has been mandatory for all new cars since the end of 2015. Using ABS and TCS, it controls the vehicle’s trajectory by adjusting various steering movements while maintaining stability to prevent the car from skidding during a sudden manoeuvre.
The Electronic Stability Program system improves driving safety by maintaining directional stability under all conditions, including sudden stops, typical turning manoeuvres, acceleration, overtaking, etc. Increased stability of the car at road edges, e.g. when manoeuvring in extreme situations (such as cornering too fast), reduces the risk of skidding or collision.
BLIS – Blind Spot Information System
BLIS is a technology that sees what you cannot see. It is about the so-called blind spots on both sides of the car. This safety system, which protects the driver and passengers, uses a camera to detect when another vehicle enters a blind spot on one side of the car. When it happens, it notifies the driver using an LED warning light in the relevant exterior mirror. The field of vision is 9.5 m long and 3 m wide on both sides of the car.
The BLIS system helps to avoid collisions and traffic accidents, especially when changing lanes. It automatically activates day and night as soon as the car speed exceeds 10 km/h.
ICC – active cruise control
ICC (Intelligent Cruise Control) is an excellent help to the driver. Manufacturers of new cars have developed safety systems that react to changing road conditions. Unlike traditional cruise control (which requires constant driver activity), active cruise control will automatically slow your vehicle down when there are obstacles on the road.
When the car ahead slows down, this control system reduces your car’s speed to maintain a safe distance. Once the obstruction disappears, ICC automatically returns to the set speed, so you can continue driving with ease.
TC, TCS – traction control
TCS, or Traction Control System, prevents the wheels from spinning and skidding during acceleration. But, again, it should be remembered that this is an active safety system that controls the vehicle trajectory, not its stability.
It employs elements of the ABS system – if one wheel starts rotating faster than the other, it can be halted by reducing engine power. The system often keeps the tyres in contact with the road without skidding, e.g. when starting on a slippery slope or in any situation where you need adhesion and the power to move off.
AFIL (Lane Assist) – Lane departure warning system
In modern vehicle models, you will find AFIL. It is a system that prevents you from unintentionally departing the lane, e.g. in the event of driver fatigue. Thanks to a front-facing camera system integrated into the rear-view mirror, the image is acquired in real-time. The system reacts to accidental lane departures.
The driver is informed of the change of direction by vibrations of the seat or seat belt. This helps to return the car to the correct lane.
BAS – Brake Assist System
BAS is a set of electronic sensors for automatic braking in modern car models. Its mode of operation is quite simple to understand.
Together with the ABS, it detects when the driver brakes in an emergency (for example, based on the speed at which the accelerator pedal is released to fully depress the brake). Then, it makes the necessary calculations to apply the highest possible braking force in a given situation.
Drivers who witness the car in front of them applying the Brake Assist System will see the brake lights flash.
Changes to safety systems in new cars from 2022
The European Union has approved a regulation requiring car manufacturers to provide advanced safety systems in all new cars sold from 2022.
The following safety-enhancing systems will be installed as a standard:
- driver drowsiness and fatigue alert – this sensor collects driving data such as accelerator pedal presses and steering wheel movements. Simultaneously it analyses the driver’s body behaviour to detect if they are tired and need to stop, sending a video and/or audio signal.
- Intelligent Speed Assistant – also known as Traffic Sign Reader (TSR). Today it helps ‘read’ road signs and warns the driver via a mark on the dashboard of the speed limit on the road. However, new regulations will develop the TSR system to interact with engine power and automatically adjust the speed.
- EBD systems – Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. To minimise stopping distances, EBD automatically regulates the braking power of the front and rear wheels.
In addition, mandatory equipment in cars will include monitoring pedestrians and cyclists, reversing camera, parking sensors, notification of involuntary lane departure, active cruise control, systems to prevent distraction, seat belt alarm in the rear seats, driving recorder – the so-called black box and pre-installation of a breathalyser that cuts off the ignition.
How to choose a safe car?
We strongly recommend checking that your car has the recommended and necessary safety systems. The best solution is to use the vehicle history reports available on the market.
At autoDNA, when you check a specific VIN number, also named the car’s DNA code, you will find out what problems the car has had, how many owners, whether it registered in stolen vehicle databases, and even learn more about the damage it has experienced in the past. In addition, the autoDNA report may also have information about the vehicle’s equipment with specific safety systems, e.g. parking sensors, ESP, ICC, BAS etc.
When it comes to safety systems, they are not worth giving up or saving on. On the contrary, they provide peace of mind and safety for those in the vehicle, so their presence is mandatory.