As technology has shifted and made advancements possible, the driving experience has become a much safer and much better experience. From structural changes in how cars are put together to the introduction of artificial intelligence technology to prevent collisions, massive advancements have been made in how cars are designed and built. In the modern automotive industry, safety is paramount – with vehicle safety standards in place and the continuous development of new ways to improve safety for road users.
A Historical Look At Car Safety
As the automobile grew in popularity in the early 20th century, a new set of problems emerged: collisions, speeding, and other safety problems suddenly became issues to contend with. By the mid-20th century, early car safety measures – like seatbelts, padded dashboards, and other safety equipment – became more common and eventually mandatory in all vehicles in the United States.  Early car safety measures are relatively basic to today’s standards and were based on the limited technology available.
Today, safety is a primary focus in the automotive industry. Standard features like seatbelts and airbags in modern cars are designed to work more effectively than previously. What’s more, many additional safety measures are in place in vehicles to help prevent collisions and road accidents that are powered by technology, advanced engineering, data analysis, and more – like backup cameras, blind spot detection, electronic stability control, and much more.
Vehicle Crash Testing
In-car safety, vehicle crash testing is an essential part of assessing vehicle safety. In the United States, vehicles are tested through the 5-Star Safety Ratings program from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This program publishes a star rating with consumers about how specific vehicles performed in crash tests.  These crash tests are designed to help predict how a car will perform in different collision scenarios, such as frontal collisions, side barrier collisions, rollover resistance, and more.
These crash test ratings are essential and share critical information about vehicle safety beyond the federal safety guidelines for cars. Understanding these ratings can help consumers make decisions on which car they purchase and better prioritize safety. These ratings can also influence manufacturers’ design decisions – helping to lead to safer vehicles on the road.
Vehicle Structural Enhancements
How cars are designed and built has also drastically changed to improve passenger safety. This includes changes like the addition of crumple zones (or crush zones), which are specific parts of a car that intentionally absorb impact during a collision, helping to keep vehicle passengers safe.  Other advancements include the addition of reinforced cabins and prioritizing the use of impact-absorbing materials – both of which are aimed at helping reduce the impact of a collision or accident on the passengers of a vehicle.
Occupant And Child Safety
In terms of the safety of car passengers, numerous developments have been made. Airbag technology has dramatically improved. Compared to the first airbags, modern airbags are positioned at different locations to help ensure the best possible outcomes. Airbag technology has also changed to reduce the chances of injury from the force of an airbag. 
Apart from airbags, seatbelts are now mandatory in all vehicles in the United States. Seatbelts were initially built to help keep occupants in their seats during trips. Today, seatbelts are designed to help improve passenger safety in the event of an accident.
For children in cars, technology has also drastically changed since the early 20th century. For example, early car seats were simply designed as booster seats to help children sit up higher in a vehicle. As experts have learned how to best protect children in cars, regulations and standards for car seats have shifted. Today, all states require car seats in vehicles, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants ride in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible until they meet the height and weight requirements permitted by the car safety seat manufacturer. 
Pedestrian And Cyclist Safety
Safety advancements aren’t just aimed at improving the safety of drivers and passengers – but also aimed at improving safety for all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists.
For example, pedestrian detection systems are designed to identify nearby pedestrians and cyclists to help prevent accidents and collisions. These systems relay this information to drivers, helping to warn them if there’s a risk of colliding with a pedestrian and increasing their awareness of their surroundings. These systems can also step in if a crash is upcoming by calling on other features like emergency braking.
Emergency Response Systems
While significant effort and technology are directed toward minimizing collisions and accidents, advancements have also been made to assist in the event of a crash. After a collision, the amount of time for first responders to arrive on the scene can significantly impact outcomes. Technology has allowed for faster responses to accidents, such as through automatic collision notification systems. These systems are designed to identify if a crash has occurred, then automatically call for emergency assistance and share the location of the crashed vehicle. 
Some advanced versions of this technology can also share more detailed information with first responders, such as whether airbags were deployed, the speed at which the car was traveling, and more. These systems are designed to improve post-accident safety to reduce the severity of injuries and fatalities.
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)
One of the other ways that technology has drastically improved vehicle safety is through advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). These technologies are designed to improve vehicle safety by helping to prevent accidents and collisions. ADAS uses a combination of sources such as sensors, cameras, and more to make both recommendations and real-time decisions. ADAS features include adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, and more. 
Safety In Autonomous Vehicles
With the development of autonomous vehicles, safety is a primary consideration. Many new car models already feature automated safety features, including some of those mentioned above provided through ADAS. Today’s features range from warning drivers of a potential issue or collision to real-time action, such as automatic emergency braking. 
With the current development of fully autonomous vehicles, safety is a top consideration. Since many accidents are caused by human error, one of the proposed primary benefits of autonomous cars is eliminating or reducing these mistakes and, therefore, reducing the number of accidents.
Future Trends In Car Safety
While car safety has come a long way in the past century, there is ongoing research and development into making cars even safer. As technology advances, it can offer even more possibilities for driving to become safer and better for road users.
For example, vehicle-to-vehicle communication is currently being developed as a way for vehicles to share critical information, including speed, location, braking, and more. This could assist with preventing crashes and accidents by communicating potential hazards to avoid them before detection or issues.
Another future technology being developed is biometric driver monitoring. Current driver monitoring systems in cars detect potential drowsiness or lack of alertness in drivers, alerting them and recommending that they pull over and rest. Future versions of this technology could be even more robust, detecting more detailed biometric data that could affect driving ability, including temperature, respiration rate, and more.  Beyond these, even more advancements in car safety technology are currently in development – all to improve car safety for drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and more.
Since the early 20th century, when cars became commonplace, car safety has vastly shifted. From structural changes to how cars are designed and made to artificial intelligence-powered technology that can help to reduce crashes and accidents, a wide array of technological shifts have occurred to help improve car safety. And extensive research is ongoing to help make the cars of the future even safer than our vehicles today – improving the safety of drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and all road users.
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