Safer behaviour on the road is vital in reducing the number of people injured in a road accident
According to the Department for Transport (DfT), 1,760 people were killed and 24,580 people were seriously injured in UK road accidents in 2014. Many of these injuries and deaths could have been prevented if car owners had invested in the safety of their vehicles.
Of course, it is far better to never be involved in a car crash, and you should take all possible measures to reduce the risk of having one. However, bar never travelling by car, it is virtually impossible to completely eliminate the risk of being involved in a car crash.
Research with crash test dummies has revealed a number of preventative measures we can all take to reduce the risk of being killed or seriously injured in the event of a car accident.
Seatbelts are a vital measure for reducing the likelihood of serious injury in a car crash. They limit the forward motion of an occupant, stretch to slow down the occupant's deceleration in a crash, and prevent occupants being ejected from the vehicle. Children, until they reach either their 12th birthday or 135cms in height, must by law use a child safety seat or appropriate child restraint.
Airbags cushion the impact of a passenger against the car interior in the event of a crash, but they have been subject to criticism. From 1990 to 2008, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration identified 175 fatalities because of air bags. However, this represents a tiny fraction of the total 3.3 million air bag deployments and the agency estimates more than 6,377 lives have been saved and countless injuries prevented.
Side Impact Protection Beams
Side impact protection beams reduce the crush of a car during a side impact crash, an important measure considering there are more side impact crashes than frontal crashes.
Collapsible Steering Columns
Collapsible steering columns reduce the risk and severity of a driver being impaled on the steering column in the event of a frontal crash.
Laminated Windshields (two panes of glass with a layer of plastic in between them) serve a number of purposes in the event of a crash. They remain in one piece on impact, meaning that an unbelted passenger cannot be ejected from the car. They also allow for adequate transparency immediately following a collision. Tempered glass side and rear windows break into granules without sharp edges, as opposed to the jagged splintering of normal glass.
Pedestrian Protection Systems
Pedestrian protection systems aim to reduce the risk of serious or fatal injury occurring to a pedestrian or cyclist during a collision with your car. A Frontal Protection System (FPS) is an example of these, it is a device fitted to the front end of a vehicle to protect both pedestrians and cyclists who are involved in a front end collision with a vehicle.
Padding is a good way to reduce the damaging effect of impact of a passenger against the car interior. Padding of the instrument panel and other interior parts of the vehicle likely to be struck by the occupants during a crash is a good safety measure.
Crumple zones built into a car absorb and dissipate the energy of a collision, displacing and diverting it away from the passenger compartment and reducing the impact force on the vehicle occupants. They can help reduce the seriousness of injuries such as whiplash.