CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION TO CAR SAFETY

In all walks of life, the element of safety is an important one. From a manufacturing perspective it’s one of the driving factors for any product and likewise, for consumers it’ll be one of those sought-after qualities.

In the automotive world, an emphasis on safety is perhaps one of the most crucial components in the creation of any vehicle. After all, the driver is at the wheel of something travelling at speeds up to 70, 80 and even 90mph and without adequate safety measures in place, the casualty and fatality rates would be much higher.

With automotive vehicles though it’s not just sending a car crashing into a barrier in a controlled environment and then publishing the results – as a way to show off the safety standards. There is now a range of top quality tech inbuilt in vehicles to ensure not only the driver, but the passengers and other road users are as safe as can be.

Of course, what remains difficult is for the manufacturing giants to factor reckless driving and law breaking into the equation. So, whilst the safety standards of vehicles can be continually improved and refined, there also needs to be significant weight behind campaigns to ensure drivers are better educated on staying safe on the roads.

For auto safety there are loads of features included as standard now to make life on the road easier than ever before. Many of these safety standards will be discussed in length throughout this guide and come under core categories including the construction of the vehicle, safety tech, safer and better vehicle handling and the characteristics of the driver.

The safety element of driving hasn’t always been top of the agenda though, as it is in the 21st Century. It has only really been since the 1960s that manufacturers started to place a greater weight on safety and nowadays there are much fewer casualties and fatalities on the road.

As a basic example of this, seat belts haven’t always been fitted as standard, yet for many of us now, these have always been an integral part of any vehicle. This would be the same for airbags and both are described as mandatory safety features for every car.

You could probably imagine how this would be in the future, with some of the latest and greatest tech rolled out nowadays being a prevalent part of every vehicle in a few decades time.

As you probably know, modern technology in the last five years means the newest models released are filled with some excellent gadgets and gizmos. Just because those vehicles built 10 or even 15-years-old won’t have the same tech included, it doesn’t make them unsafe cars.

Instead, it’s simply important to take into account the safety elements the vehicle perhaps lacks and concurrently improve your driving and how you deal with certain situations to counter this.

Safety Statistics

Whilst casualty and fatality figures linked to the automotive world have fallen significantly over the last 50 or 60 years, there are still far more incidents than there should be. How many times do you pass the aftermath of an accident on the road?

In fact, for the 2014 year’s end, there was a rise in deaths from the previous 12 months by some 2.1%. The UK was actually just one of eight member states of the International Transport Forum to see such an increase.

Despite these results though, the IRTAD claim the UK has the safest roads from those registered, on a par with Sweden. Fatalities in the UK are only around three per 100,000 compared to 12 per 100,000 in countries such as Chile and Argentina.

As well as a whole host of other countries, this surprisingly makes the UK a safer place to drive than France, Germany, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. This probably has a lot to do with the infrastructure of British roads, rather than the vehicles themselves though and still, each year there are in excess of 1,800 people killed on the road.

Speaking about the report, the IRTAD said: “Although substantial overall fatality reductions have been achieved since the year 2000, the pace of improvement for vulnerable road users is lower than for car occupants.

"While fatalities among car occupants were reduced by 54 per cent between 2000 and 2013, decreases were only 36 per cent for pedestrians, 35 per cent for cyclists and 22 per cent for motorcyclists. As a consequence in many countries, road safety priorities have recently shifted from motorised rural traffic to vulnerable road users in urban areas."

The harshest critics do argue that whilst cars are being better built for the safety of the driver and passengers, there’s still not much in terms of safety when it comes to other road users. They feel more needs to be done to protect everyone on the road.

Also, whilst the results are encouraging and in general, road deaths are on the decline, it can’t be disguised that there are still 1.3 million people killed around the world each year from road collisions and accidents.

Chapter 2: Child Car & Road Safety