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Car safety

The main idea of car safety is to bring the passengers to a stop in the longest possible time and the in longest possible distance. Then, if and when they hit something to make the damage it does to them as little as possible.

Car design

Slowing down slowly:
(a) crumple zones in the car body
(b) seat belts
(c) air bags

Less damage
(a) laminated windscreens
(b) no hard projections in the car
(c) collapsing steering wheels

You can see the effect of crumple zones in the photograph of the car crash. Although the bonnets of the two cars are badly damaged, in fact both car were a write off, the passenger compartments are unaffected and all the passengers got out safely and without injury.

Being able to stop at all and in a controlled way needs:
(a) good brakes
(b) good tyres


Weather conditions are also important. It will obviously take longer to stop if there is less friction between the tyres and the road in wet or icy conditions and if it is foggy the driver will not be able to see a problem ahead until it may be too late to stop. Therefore in poor conditions people should always drive more slowly.

The driver

Of course all this is no good unless the car is driven safely, within the speed limit for the road and by a driver who is alert for any possible happenings around them.

The alertness of the driver will be seriously affected by the use of drugs and alcohol. The reaction time of someone who is drunk or under the effects of drugs is much longer and the driver cannot drive safely! Also tired drivers are not safe drivers, so people who drive long distances should have regular rests and even those on short journeys who are tired should take extra care.

Attempting to do something else while you are driving means that you are not fully aware of what is happening around you on the road. Therefore drivers in cars should not use mobile phones; drivers should not read, eat or drink or get so involved in conversations that they lose concentration.

It only needs a split second of misjudgment to cause a serious accident.


© Keith Gibbs 2020