Safety is a significant concern for cars, and technology has been a boon. The automotive industry has come a long way since the beginning. Today our vehicles are well equipped with features that we take for granted.
But there was a time when even seat belts were not there in the cars; let’s have a look at the vital safety innovations that save lives:
In late 1940, cars only came with lap belts; Volvo was the company to introduce 3-point seat belts. However, these were not mandatory until 1959, when SAAB made it necessary.
Volvo came up with the 3-point shoulder belts, which are now equipped in every car made. They did not file a patent for this, and the whole automobile industry adopted it.
The concept of airbags came in the 1905s, but no manufacturer could make fully functional airbags. It was General Motors in the 1970s who were able to create functional airbags.
They called it an “Air Cushion Restraint System” it came as an optional feature with luxury Cadillacs, Buicks & Chevrolets. Later, all the brands adopted it, and now every car is equipped with airbags.
Anti-lock Braking Systems were first invented in the 1960s for airplanes and were utilized in cars later in the 1970s. They are among the backbone of the safety features and have saved countless lives. Mario Palazetti invented the modern ABS in the Fiat Research Centre. It was known as Antiskid, and later the patent was sold to Bosch, who worked along with Daimler Benz to bring it into the automobile world.
In the late 1970s, Mercedes Benz’s cars were the first ones in the automobile industry to be equipped with ABS. the system comes into effect when the driver applies full brakes during emergencies. It prevents the locking of wheels providing better control.
The disc brakes were invented in the early years of the automobile industry, but it took almost five decades before Citroen launched the DS. Before this launch, all the cars came with drum brakes which were comparatively less effective.
Citroen was the first company to mass-produce cars equipped with disc brakes. When disc brakes are applied, the brake caliper grips on the disc providing instant braking and shorter braking distances.
Mercedes Benz invented and patented crumple zones in 1952. They are the simples passive safety features that come among the essentials. They are built to absorb the kinetic energy of the impact during a crash.
Also Read: How Crumple Zones Work? | Explained
They sustain and absorb the energy during the crash keeping the interior cabin and the passengers safe. This might ruin the exterior, but it is a lifesaver for the passengers seated inside the vehicle.
Safety glass was accidentally made by a chemist named Edouard Benedictus in his lab in 1903. Later the Tucker Car Company was the first to introduce this feature and equip their model Torpedo with it.
The car did not survive in the market, but the safety glass did. When broken, the glass shatters into several tiny pieces to avoid causing harm to the passengers. Since then, it has been a standard feature for all vehicles.
This is a vital feature that has saved countless lives, but we dont know how it was invented. It was designed by a young safety engineer known as Frank Werner Mohn, who was on a test trip with a Mercedes while his car landed in a ditch on an icy road in 1989.
Fixating on what happened, he came up with this feature. After his brainwave, they worked on a prototype at Mercedes HQ in Stuttgart. Later in 1991, after an ESP-equipped prototype flawlessly performed at an icy lap, this feature was approved.