Understanding Your Vehicle’s Safety Features and How They React in a Collision

May 10, 2024
Understanding Your Vehicle’s Safety Features and How They React in a Collision

When it comes to driving, safety should always be your top priority. That’s why car manufacturers constantly implement new and advanced safety features in their vehicles. These features are designed to keep you and your passengers safe in the event of a collision.

One crucial aspect of road safety is knowing how these features work and how they react during a collision. This knowledge can help you make informed driving decisions and potentially prevent serious injuries or fatalities.

The following sections will overview some standard vehicle safety features and their functions during a collision.

The Evolution of Safety Technology in Modern Cars

With the rise of autonomous vehicles on the horizon, it’s clear that the automotive industry has been continually propelled by innovations geared towards safety. The humble seatbelt, championed by Volvo decades ago, is today flanked by an arsenal of features that make up a vehicle’s sophisticated safety net.

From the deployment of airbags to the integration of sensors that can predict and respond to potential hazards, each year sees a new generation of cars designed not just with style and performance in mind but also as robust cocoons for drivers and passengers.

Key Safety Features and Their Functions


Airbags reduce the impact of collision forces on your body and provide a buffer between you and hard surfaces in the vehicle. When a collision occurs, airbags don’t simply explode into the cabin. They’re part of a controlled explosion that takes milliseconds to determine which airbags to deploy and at what velocity. An airbag is comprised of three components: a bag, an inflator, and a sensor. Together, they combine to cushion the head or chest from hard surfaces.

Today’s cars come equipped with a variety of airbags to protect you from every angle:

  • Front airbags inflate in a head-on collision, shielding you from impact with the steering wheel or dashboard.
  • Side airbags deploy in the event of a side-impact crash and protect your torso and hips.
  • Curtain airbags drop down from above in a rollover accident to prevent serious head injuries.
  • Knee airbags are designed to reduce leg injuries by avoiding contact with the dashboard or steering column.

Seat Belts

The revolution in seat belt technology has brought us to a point where these life-saving tools are more adaptive than ever before. Pretensioners tighten the belt instantly to take up any slack and put you in the ideal crash position, while load limiters ease up on the pressure in severe collisions to reduce the risk of injury. Other advancements in seatbelt technology include:

Adjustable upper anchors for child seats can reduce the risk of severe injuries to children in a crash.
Energy-management systems allow seat belts to stretch gradually and absorb energy during a collision.
Reminder systems that alert drivers and passengers to buckle up before they set off on their journey.

Crumple Zones

Crumple zones are the unsung heroes of a car’s safety design. These strategically engineered areas absorb the energy from a collision, effectively lengthening the time it takes for the forces of the impact to reach the passenger compartment. This simple yet significant design feature can differentiate between a survivable accident and a disastrous one.

Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)

When panic sets in and you jam on the brakes, the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) keeps you in control. By rapidly pulsing the brakes, ABS prevents the wheels from locking up, maintaining traction and stability. Whether you’re in a skid or headed toward an obstacle, ABS can be the difference between a close call and an actual collision.

The Moment of Impact — How These Systems React in Unison

Imagine the screech of tires, the shock of the hit—the chaos that ensues in mere moments. Each of these safety features, designed to be passive most of the time, suddenly shifts gears to act within the blink of an eye. Sensors detect the jolt, and a symphony of mechanisms serves the passengers’ protection.

The Immediate Shielding Effect

In the heat of the incident, airbags and seat belts work together like a well-orchestrated playbook. Airbags manage the blunt force trauma by swiftly inflating against the crash, much like a gentle but firm guide away from harm, often preventing head and chest injury. Meanwhile, seat belts keep the passenger secured against the seat, ensuring the massive deceleration doesn’t lead to fatal injuries.

Common Post-Collision Procedures

Airbag Replacement and System Resets

Once deployed, airbags are no longer viable protection. They must be replaced, and the entire system must be reset to be ready for the next deployment. This isn’t a cosmetic procedure — it’s as vital as the airbag itself, ensuring that the correct timing sequence ensures maximum safety during the following incident.

Structural Repairs to Crumple Zones

The crumple zones are your car’s first and sacrificial line of defense. In doing their job — which they often do valiantly — they crumple, absorbing the energy of the crash, and subsequently need to be restored.

A post-collision assessment must closely inspect these zones, often leading to restorative structural repairs.

Mechanical and Electrical System Checks

Even with perfect crumple zones and functioning airbags, a collision can mar the system as a whole. Mechanical and electrical checks are crucial to ensure that every part that protects you is ready to go, from wheel sensors that trigger ABS to the electrical network directing airbag deployment.

Preventative Measures and Regular Safety Checks

Routine Safety Feature Inspections

Waiting for the annual check-up means 365 days of potential risk if a safety feature isn’t functioning optimally. Regular inspections, ideally semi-annually, should be part of any safety-conscious vehicle owner’s calendar. Don’t leave these checks until it’s too late.

Upgrading Older Vehicles

Old doesn’t always mean unsafe, but older technology can be less effective than the enhancements of today’s cars. Whether it’s retrofitting for seat belt systems or comprehensive upgrades to your vehicle’s whole system, considering these changes could be your wisest safety measure.

Work with Freedom Collision Center for Your Collision Repair Needs
Remember, cultivating awareness of your vehicle’s response to a collision is a life-long investment, not just a one-time lesson. Stay informed, stay alert, and know that every aspect of the driving experience is an opportunity to prioritize safety.

If you are still determining the state of your vehicle’s safety features or require assistance, contact our professionals at Freedom Collision Center. We can schedule a vehicle safety inspection with our experienced staff to ensure your car is road-ready.



Morgantown Center

696 Fairmont Rd.
Morgantown, WV 26501

(304) -241-1325

Freedom Auto Group's Morgantown Center