“If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What You Should Have to Avoid Being a WHO Statistic

I got a message this morning from my friend. He said he had his car towed to the service station jut a couple of blocks away from my house, and that if I had the time that I check on it once in a while. It seems that he got into an accident last night because he was driving under the influence. The funny thing is, he tried telling the police that he wasn’t drunk but the cop with the breathalyzer thought different. For this past months state troopers and traffic enforcers have been really strict with this sort of behavior here. And rightly so because according to latest surveys by WHO car-related accidents are the leading causes of injury-related deaths worldwide.

But safety should not be the concern of a third-person. It should be a first-person effort. Once my friend gets out of the hospital, he’ll definitely hear from me. I’ve told him many times that they should have a designated driver every time they go out, but they just won’t listen. Safety is a very big issue for me, and so I’m taking a break from my tips-on-how-to-make-your-car-more-stylish posts and focus on safety.

Safety features are categorized into two: active and passive. The former are those that prevent accidents from happening, while the latter are those that minimize injury when danger is imminent. It is important that your car has majority of these features installed.

The active safety features in a vehicle are:
  • Intelligent speed adaptation which physically prevents vehicles from being able to exceed the speed limit through electronic throttle control governed by a GPS matched database of speed limits.
  • Turn signals and brake lights, including Center High Mounted Stop Lamps (CHMSL)
  • Rear end Collision Warning Lamps senses deceleration of lead vehicle and flashes amber warning strobe rearward to warn following vehicles of a pending braking or stopping event
  • Variable assist power steering allows assistance to the motorist while parking, but reduces steering effort assistance at motorway speeds
  • Headlight wipers/washers
  • Mercedes-style ribbed tail lights to prevent snow and grime build-up
  • Dynamic steering response (DSR) corrects the rate of power steering system to adapt it to vehicle's speed and road conditions.
  • Traction control (TCS) actuates brakes or reduces throttle to restore traction if driven wheels begin to spin.
  • Hill holder.
  • Four wheel drive (AWD). Distributing power to all four wheels lessens the chances of wheel spin. It also suffers less from oversteer and understeer than front wheel drive, but more understeer than rear wheel drive. However, some four wheel drive vehicles (particularly SUVs have a higher center of gravity and are more prone to roll-over and cause injury or death to passengers.
  • Reverse backup sensors, which alert drivers to nearby objects in their path, are installed in some high-end vehicles, but may also be purchased separately.
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC, also known by ESP and other numerous manufacturer-specific names). Uses various sensors to intervene when the car senses a possible loss of control. The car's control unit can reduce power from the engine and even apply the brakes to prevent the car from understeering or oversteering. See car stability
  • Lateral Support : Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS).
  • Directional headlights, which allow the driver to see obstacles ahead in the roadway while cornering.
  • Low center of gravity and other conventional features promoting good car handling and braking, and helping to avoid rollover.
  • Comfortable suspension and seating to avoid accidents from driver fatigue.
  • Large (relative to weight) high performance tires, suited to the weather and road conditions, contribute to braking and handling. Soft high histeresis rubber, tread and cord design are important. See Run flat tire.
  • Visibility for the driver, mirrors, elimination of blind spots and possibly other awareness aids such as radar, wireless vehicle safety communications and night vision.
  • Death Brake; there is a move to introduce deadman's braking into automotive application, primarily heavy vehicles, there may also be a need to add penalty switches to cruise controls.
  • Four wheel steering gives, at the cost of mechanical complexity, quicker, more accurate maneuvers at high speed and/or decreased turning circle at low speed. It may also help stability.
  • Adaptive cruise control (ACC).
  • AWAKE and intelligent car features.
  • Precrash system
  • Seatbelts might also play a minor role in active safety by keeping (via locking of the inertial reel) the driver firm on his/her seat in a high-g turn or deceleration. This has been further developed and patented by Mercedes-Benz in the PreSafe technology which provides a synergy between active and passive systems, helping the driver avoid a danger and preparing him/her for an imminent crash.
  • Brakes
    • Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
      • Electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD)
      • Cornering Brake Control (CBC)
    • Emergency brake assist (EBA)
    • Brake assist system (BAS)
    • Forward Collision Warning System (FCW)
    • Lane Departure Warning System (LDW)
    • Dynamic Brake Control (DBC).
    • Inboard brakes allow large fade resistant discs or drums, without contributing to unsprung weight and wheel bounce, which degrade braking, handling and ride, and increase mechanical loads.
The passive safety features are:
  • Seatbelts (or safety belts) absorb energy and limit forward motion of an occupant, and help keep occupants from being ejected from the vehicle.
  • Shoulder harnesses add additional protection to seatbelts by restraining the upper body, absorbing energy and preventing injuries from second collisions where the moving occupant hits the stationary dashboard or windshield.
  • Energy absorbing windshields. Beginning in 1966, windshields in cars sold in the US have had a deformable polymer layer that allows the windshield to deform on impact absorbing energy and preventing penetration of the head through the windshield.
  • Airbags: There are many types of airbags, all of which should be considered supplemental restraint systems (SRS), used in addition to belts.
    • Front airbags inflate in a medium speed head on collision to cushion the impact of the head to the steering wheel (driver) or dashboard to the (front passenger) .
    • Side airbags inflate in a side impact (T-bone) collision to cushion the torso and sometimes the pelvis and head.
    • Curtain airbags protect the head and upper body of passengers in a side collision. Newer models may stay inflated for a longer period of time, and may help to keep unbelted occupants in vehicle during a rollover, but should be considered supplemental to belts and never used in place of belts.
    • Knee airbags inflate in frontal impact collisions to protect the driver's knees and are now available in many newer high end model vehicles.
  • Crumple zone technology absorbs the energy of a collision by displacing the impact of a crash and diverting it from the internal (passenger compartment) critical structure of the vehicle.
  • Side impact bars for protection against side on collisions
  • Collapsible steering column, sometimes provided with steel sheet bellows.
  • Crash compatibility can be improved by matching vehicles by weight and by matching crumple zones with points of structural rigidity, particularly for side-on collisions. Some pairs of vehicle front end structures interact better than others in crashes.
  • Cage construction is designed to protect vehicle occupants. Some racing vehicles have a tubular roll cage
  • Reinforced side door structural members
  • Door handles secure enough for emergency occupant extrication through a winch.
  • Fuel pump shutoff devices turn off gas flow in the event of a collision for the purpose of preventing gasoline fires.
  • Active pedestrian protection systems.
  • Driver State Sensor - The system measures 3D head pose and eyelid motion parameters of the driver.
  • Padding of the instrument panel and other interior parts of the vehicle likely to be struck by the occupants during a crash. Whilst largely being supplanted by airbags, it still plays an important role in preventing injuries.
Source: Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia