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Crash Test Huevos

Car Safety Research Paper
Vehicle Safety is a very important matter when it comes to vehicles in the United States.
In 2014 alone 32,675 people had a motor vehicle related death and millions of people were
involved in a vehicle crash. Car companies have implemented many safety features into cars to
comply with government standards and to increase the likelihood of survival should a crash
occur. One way of increasing the safety of a vehicle is to make it lighter. Lighter vehicles crash
with less force than heavier ones.
According to newton’s first law of motion an object in motion will stay in motion. This
means that the person inside a car is moving at the same speed as the car. If the car comes to
a sudden stop, like in a crash, the person will continue to move at the speed the car was
traveling. This is what the primary function of seatbelts is for. A seatbelt holds you in place so
you don’t fly forward and hit your head on the dashboard or even worse, fly through the
windshield. On average 86% of Americans wear seatbelts and in most states it is required that a
seatbelt be worn at all times when driving a vehicle and seatbelts have been mandatory
equipment in cars since 1981. The number of serious crash related injuries and deaths is cut in
half by the use of seatbelts alone.
Active restraint in a vehicle is defined as a type of restraint that the car’s passenger
needs to implement themselves. The seatbelt and the head rest are the most common types of
active restraint in vehicles. Passive restraint is defined as a safety device that doesn’t require
the passenger to do anything. Airbags are the most common type of passive restraint and have
been mandatory in all vehicles since 1981.
The way an airbag works is quite interesting. When a car crash happens a sensor in the
airbag sends a signal to an inflation system that releases and combines sodium azide (NaN3)
and potassium nitrate (KNO3) that rapidly reacts and releases nitrogen gas that inflates the bag
in less than a tenth of a second. The bag is meant to prevent the driver’s head from crashing
into the steering wheel and when combined with a seatbelt the likely hood of surviving a car
crash with minimal injury is significantly increased.
Another safety mechanism is the windshield of a vehicle. Since 1937 safety glass was
mandated in all vehicles and in the 60’s and 70’s standards were set for the strength, thickness,
resilience, clarity, and windshield penetration. Today windshields can block up to 99% of UV
rays and using a method of infusing glass with metal, reduce the amount of Infrared Rays that
heat up a car.
The so called “crumple zone” is another important safety feature of a vehicle. The
crumple zone is the structural area in the front or rear of a car and is designed to absorb energy
upon impact. The first car to use a crumple zone was the Mercedes-Benz W111 Fintail in 1959.
It was design by German engineer and inventor Béla Barényi whose name appears on more
than 2500 patents. When a crash occurs the crumple zone is meant to “crumple” and provide a
cushion that slows down the impact so that the car’s human passengers can adjust to the
sudden stop. Most often crumple zones are made of plastic and are designed to be easily
replaceable. In a crash, tenths of a second often drastically change the amount of force that is
applied to a passenger.
Anit-lock braking systems are standard in almost all modern cars and they greatly
reduce the problems that previous brake systems have. Before Anti-Lock Brakes it was common
for a brake system to lock up if the brake was used to quickly, causing the car to swerve and

Crash Test Huevos
Car Safety Research Paper
slide to a halt. ABS was first used in aircraft however in the 1970’s it made its way to cars. ABS
can detect when a car wheel is moving too slowly and will release hydraulic fluid to prevent the
brakes from locking up. With ABS steering in slippery or wet conditions is much safer.
Car safety has improved ever since its creation and over the decades safety features
from seatbelts to airbags, and from brakes to windshields, have been improved enormously. In
today’s world you are much more likely to survive a high speed crash then you were 70 years
ago. The implementation of seatbelts alone has reduced serious injuries and deaths by almost
half and most cars are designed around the safety of the driver and their passengers. Now car
manufacturers are looking to the future. With automated cars crashes could be prevented
altogether and with new advances in windshield technology windshield wipers could be a thing
of the past. New materials are making cars lighter and stronger. From its dangerous days of
being a seat, brake, and wheel, cars have come a long way in keeping their passengers safe
and will continue to do so for decades to come.
Sources
"Seat Belts: Get the Facts." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, 05 July 2016. Web. 31 Aug. 2016.
"History of Seat Belts in the U.S." Seat Belt History. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2016.
"Passive Restraints for Automobile Occupants--A Closer Look." U.S. GAO -. N.p., n.d.
Web. 31 Aug. 2016.
"How Does an Air Bag Work." HowStuffWorks. N.p., 2000. Web. 02 Sept. 2016.
Answers. Answers Corporation, n.d. Web. 07 Sept. 2016.
"Physics in the Crumple Zone | Plastics Helps Save Lives." Physics in the Crumple Zone
| Plastics Helps Save Lives. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Sept. 2016.
Garage, Second Chance. "A Clear View: History of Automotive Safety Glass." A Clear
View: History of Automotive Safety Glass. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2016.
By Utilising Weaker Zones on the Outer Parts and Strengthening Inner Parts, the Car
Acts as a Safety Shell for Passengers. "The Evolution Of Car Safety - Top 10
Features." Simply Smarter Blog. N.p., 2016. Web. 09 Sept. 2016.