Tag: vehicle safety

#StaySafeSaturday: Crash Avoidance and Electronic Stability Control

Avoiding a crash is ALWAYS preferable to attempting to “manage” the crash.  How a vehicle manages a crash is often referred to as “crashworthiness.” This concept will be addressed in later posts.  

The most significant crash avoidance technology relating to vehicle stability is electronic stability control (ESC). This technology reacts faster than the operator of a vehicle.  It does so by regulating braking, engine speed, and transmission adjustments. The concept of ESC has existed for decades, primarily in the aviation industry. When a passenger airplane encounters turbulence, avionics of the airplane stabilizes the airplane before a pilot can react. Historically without such a system, the pilot would attempt to correct the stability of the airplane. Many times the pilot would overreact, which would cause further instability to the airplane. This is commonly referred to as “pilot induced error.” The same occurs with drivers attempting to regain control of a vehicle that is starting to slide or rotate in an emergency steer maneuver. The driver is undertaking all reasonable actions as a driver perceives. However, the driver’s perception reaction can actually further the instability of the vehicle.

ESC identifies and reacts faster than a driver. Similar to the airplane turbulence scenario, the vehicle will stabilize itself to prevent a crash.   

ESC has existed in vehicles since the late 1990s. However, it was not until March 2007 that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) required vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less be equipped with an ESC system. NHTSA estimated that as many as 2,534 lives would be saved annually once all passenger vehicles had ESC systems. In 2004 NHTSA concluded that ESC was approximately 30% effective in preventing fatal single vehicle crashes for passenger cars and 63% for sport utility vehicles (SUVs).  

NHTSA allowed a “phase-in” for vehicle manufacturers to incorporate ESC from 2009 to 2011 model years. Beginning in 2012 all light vehicles were required to have ESC. Therefore, if searching for a used vehicle, only consider model years 2012 to the present as ESC is mandatory in selecting a safe vehicle.

#StaySafeSaturday: Where Consumers Can Find Vehicle Safety Information

Consumers can easily be confused regarding selection of vehicles for purposes of safety. Many times, consumers rely upon the “star ratings” from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However the “star ratings” do not provide the details consumers need for selecting a safe vehicle.

Vehicle safety is based largely on design attributes of a vehicle. For example, the stability of a vehicle is different from how the vehicle performs in an impact during a crash. Vehicle stability is considered “crash avoidance.” Occupant protection involves how the vehicle protects you in the event a crash.  

So where should consumers look to determine a safe vehicle? A good source of information is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It provides pictures and short videos of crash tests undertaken by the institute of various vehicles.  

Technical data and crash films are found on the Vehicle Database of NHTSA. It can be found here.

This is not a particularly user-friendly site. However, you can inquire by vehicle make, model, and year to see crash reports/films. For example, when looking up a 2018 Honda Pilot, you will find a number of photos pre-test and post-test. The following photos are pre- and post- testing for side-impact:







There will be test reports associated with every test. However, what information should consumers attempt to obtain from the photographs, films, and reports listed on this site? Understanding crash dynamics and how a vehicle will protect you and your loved ones in a crash is challenging. The devil is in the details. Remember that the entire crash sequence will be over in approximately 100 milliseconds, faster than the blink of an eye. Therefore, how the vehicle protects you in avoiding the collision or during the collision is critical.  

In further posts, CKK will provide additional information regarding vehicle attributes consumers should look for to protect themselves. 

Eliminating US Traffic Fatalities: It Is Possible

Car Technology 2What would you say if someone told you there could be zero traffic deaths each year? It might sound like a pipe dream, but it’s not. Many safety advocates are saying it is possible to eliminate most of the 30,000 plus annual highway fatalities in the US.

How is it possible? Speeding up the adoption on new safety technology. Automakers are notoriously known for taking decades to fully integrate existing safety technology into cars on a standard basis. But, if automakers were to safely speed along their adoption process for things that have been around since 2000 like forward-collision warning, rear cameras, lane-departure warning, traffic-jam assist, adaptive cruise control, and more, the aim for Vision Zero could be within reach.

Vision Zero was written into Swedish law in 1997, stating no level of traffic fatalities would be acceptable. They are demanding 100 percent safety on the road. New technology advancements like vehicle-to-vehicle communications and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications are a part of making Vision Zero a reality.

But even without those technologies that are in the works, and just with what is possible as of 2015, US traffic deaths could be cut by almost 10,000 a year, that is, if these technologies were implemented in all cars on the roadway. That’s where it gets harder. The US has nearly 260 million light vehicles on the road with an average age of 11.5 years. That’s a lot of older cars without new technology and with no financial incentives many consumers won’t or can’t invest in newer, safer technology.

It’s time for consumers, automakers, and lawmakers to step up. It’s time to stop accepting traffic fatalities as a normal. It’s time to demand the safety technology available is implemented in new vehicles. It’s time to demand affordable, safer options for America’s roadways.

Want to read more about the aim for zero roadway fatalities? Read Aiming For Zero, Automotive News for more details on this goal that could become a reality.