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Car Safety Features

Thinking and Braking Distance

Speed (mph) Speed (m/s) Thinking Braking Distance Stopping

Distance (m) (m) Distance
20 8.9 6 6 12
30 13.3 9 14 23
40 17.8 12 24 36
50 22.2 15 38 53
60 26.7 18 56 74
70 31.1 21 75 96

1. The Thinking Distance is how far the car travels between

the moment when the driver first realizes that the car must be stopped
and the moment when they apply (put on) the brakes.
The faster the car is travelling,
the further it moves during the thinking distance.
Thinking distance can be reduced
by using road signs to warn the driver that they might have to stop soon.
The more alert a driver is, the quicker they can apply the brakes
and the smaller is the thinking distance.
2. The Braking Distance.
The total stopping distance = thinking distance + braking distance.

Factors Affecting Braking Distance

λ Worn tyres.
λ Wet / icy road.
λ Oil on the road.
λ Worn brake linings
λ Increasing the mass of the car.

Factors Affecting Thinking Distance

λ Tired or not concentrating.

λ Under the influence of alcohol.
λ Under the influence of drugs or some medicines.
λ Poor visibility for example in fog or heavy rain.

Car Safety Features For Pedestrians

Most pedestrians die due to the traumatic brain injury resulting from the hard impact of the
head against the stiff hood or windshield [2]. In addition, although usually non-fatal,
injuries to the lower limb (usually to the knee joint and long bones) are the most common
cause of disability due to pedestrian crashes. A Frontal Protection System (FPS) is a
device fitted to the front end of a vehicle to protect both pedestrians and cyclists who are
involved in a front end collision with a vehicle.

While the lower limb is the most commonly injured body region, most pedestrian fatalities
are due to head injuries [3].

Protecting the head

The hood of most vehicles is usually fabricated from sheet metal, which is a compliant
energy absorbing structure and thus poses a comparatively small threat. Most serious
head injuries occur when there is insufficient clearance between the hood and the stiff-
underlying engine components. A gap of approximately 10 cm is usually enough to allow
the pedestrian’s head to have a controlled deceleration and a significantly reduced risk of
death [3]. Creating room under the hood is not always easy because usually there are
other design constraints, such as aerodynamics and styling. In some regions of the hood
it can be impossible. These include along the edges on which the hood is mounted and
the cowl, where the hood meets the wind shield. Engineers have attempted to overcome
this problem by using deformable mounts, and by developing more ambitious solutions
such as air bags that are activated during the crash and cover the stiff regions of the hood
[4]. The 2006 year model of Citroën C6 and Jaguar XK feature a novel pop-up bonnet
design, which adds 12cm (5") extra clearance over the engine block if the bumper senses
a hit.

Protecting the limbs

Most limb injuries occur due to a direct blow from the bumper and the leading edge of the
hood. This leads to contact fractures of the femur and the tibia/fibula and damage to the
knee ligaments due to bending of the joint. Thus, attempts at reducing these injuries
involve reducing the peak contact forces by making the bumper softer and increasing the
contact area and by limiting the amount of knee bending by modifying the geometry of the
front end of the car. Computer simulations and experiments with cadavers show that when
cars have lower bumpers, the thigh and leg rotate together causing the knee to bend less
and thus reducing the likelihood of ligament injuries. Deeper bumper profiles and
structures under the bumper (such as the air dam) can also assist in limiting the rotation
of the leg.

Road Safety Features

Better motorways are banked on curves in order to reduce the need for tire-traction and
increase stability for vehicles with high centers of gravity. Most roads are cambered
(crowned), that is, made so that they have rounded surfaces, to reduce standing water
and ice, primarily to prevent frost damage but also increasing traction in poor weather.
Some sections of road are now surfaced with porous bitumen to enhance drainage; this is
particularly done on bends.
Most street furniture is now designed to absorb impact energy and minimize the risk to the
occupants of cars, and bystanders. For example, most side rails are now anchored to the
ground, so that they cannot skewer a passenger compartment, and most light poles are
designed to break at the base rather than violently stop a car that hits them. Some street
furniture is designed to collapse on impact. Highways authorities have also removed trees
in the vicinity of roads; while the idea of "dangerous trees" has attracted a certain amount
of skepticism, unforgiving objects such as trees can cause severe damage and injury to
any errant road users.
An example of the importance of roadside clear zones can be found on the Isle of Man TT
motorcycle race course. It is much more dangerous than Silverstone because of the lack
of runout. When a rider falls off at Silverstone he slides along slowly loosing energy, so
minimal injuries. When he falls of in the Manx he impacts with trees and walls. Similarly, a
clear zone alongside a freeway or other high speed road can prevent off-road excursions
from becoming fixed-object crashes.
The ends of some guard rails on high-speed highways in the United States are protected
with impact attenuators, designed to gradually absorb the kinetic energy of a vehicle and
slow it more gently before it can strike the end of the guard rail head on, which would be
devastating at high speed. Several mechanisms are used to dissipate the kinetic energy.
Fitch Barriers, a system of sand-filled barrels, uses momentum transfer from the vehicle to
the sand. Many other systems tear or deform steel members to absorb energy and
gradually stop the vehicle.
Road hazards and intersections in some areas are now usually marked several times,
roughly five, twenty and sixty seconds in advance so that drivers are less likely to attempt
violent maneuvers.
Most signs and road line paint are retro-reflective, incorporating small glass spheres or
prisms to reflect headlights more efficiently.
Lane markers in some countries and states are marked with Cat's eyes or Botts dots,
bright reflectors that do not fade like paint. Botts dots are not used where it is icy in the
winter, because frost and snowplows can break the glue that holds them to the road,
although they can be embedded in short, shallow trenches carved in the roadway, as is
done in the mountainous regions of California.
In some countries major roads have "tone bands" impressed or cut into the edges of the
legal roadway, so that drowsing drivers are awakened by a loud hum as they release the
steering and drift off the edge of the road. Tone bands are also referred to as "rumble
strips," owing to the sound they create. An alternative method is the use of "Raised Rib"
markings, which consists of a continuous line marking with ribs across the line at regular
intervals. They were first specially authorised for use on motorways as an edge line
marking to separate the edge of the hard shoulder from the main carriageway. The
objective of the marking is to achieve improved visual delineation of the carriageway edge
in wet conditions at night. It also provides an audible/vibratory warning to vehicle drivers,
should they stray from the carriageway, and run onto the marking.
The U.S. has developed a prototype automated roadway, to reduce driver fatigue and
increase the carrying capacity of the roadway. Roadside units participating in future
Wireless vehicle safety communications networks have been studied.
There is some controversy over the way that the motor lobby has been seen to dominate
the road safety agenda. Some road safety activists use the term "road safety" (in quotes)
to describe measures such as removal of "dangerous" trees and forced segregation of the
vulnerable to the advantage of motorized traffic. Orthodox "road safety" opinion fails to
address what Adams describes as the top half of the risk thermostat, the perceptions and
attitudes of the road user community.

Crash barrier

Standard guardrail (A-profile)

A crash barrier is a barrier on a road designed to prevent vehicles from leaving the
roadway to improve road safety. Common sites for crash barriers are:
• median separators on multi-lane highways
• bridge supports
• mountain roads
The design of the road barrier is generally such that a vehicle hitting the barrier is steered
back onto the road. This may be achieved by designing the supports so that they break off
on impact, allowing the barrier to deform and push the vehicle back on track. In some
cases cost cutting has led to a failure of this mechanism, with so-called "duck-nesting"
(after the shallow nature of a duck nest) of barrier support bases. When this happens the
supports tilt over at the base instead of breaking off, allowing the barrier to collapse and
the vehicle to go over the barrier. Motorcycles are very vulnerable to crash barriers. Large
vehicles with a high centre of gravity, such as Sport utility vehicles, are also vulnerable to
going over barriers on impact.
To prevent heavy vehicles going through or over the barrier and still maintain a low impact
severity level, more stable systems like the German Super-Rail™ have been developed
since the 1990s. It is tested to hold up and lead back trucks up to 40 tons while causing
as low damage to smaller vehicles as the standard system of the 1930s.

Super-Rail™ Crash Barrier (left; on the right: standard spaced guardrail)

There is a variety of crash barriers: steel barriers are the prevalent sort but many
environmental crash barriers and steel-wood guardrails have been introduced worldwide
over the past few years.