Car Safety Features You Need to Know

Date Posted: June 24, 2020

infant in car

Did you know that Australian road fatalities have been steadily declining since the 1970’s? But with more and more traffic on our roads, how have we achieved this?

Car safety features: they save millions of lives every year. From airbags to ABS to AEB, we bring you up to speed (safely).


airbag in steering wheel

What they do: These guys have been around for years. In a nutshell, these are nylon bags that inflate almost instantly when an impact is detected. Passengers are cushioned from the impact by the soft, inflated ‘bag of air’. They deploy when the crash sensor is activated from a serious collision. Modern vehicles can have up to 10 airbags installed. ‘SRS’ stands for Secondary Restraint System.

ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System)

car drifting on track

What it does: Another long-time car safety feature. This system prevents the wheels from locking up or skidding under hard braking but still allows a vehicle to brake quickly. If front tyres are sliding on a road, it’s extremely difficult to steer away from danger while braking hard. ABS solves this problem. It uses sensors and a computer to maximise braking at each wheel while avoiding skidding. Not so good if you actually like wheels skidding!

EAB (Emergency Automatic Braking)

car brake lights

What it does: This one does basically what it says in the name. If an emergency in front of a car is detected, the system will automatically apply the brakes. Handy for distracted drivers or with poor visibility. They constantly monitor the road ahead using radar and / or lasers.

Blindspot Monitoring

wing mirror with blindspot warning

What it does: This system keeps track of your car’s blindspots. Ultimately designed for multiple lanes, especially highways. It’ll display a light or icon visible to the driver when another vehicle is in the blindspot. Most of these car safety features also sound a warning alarm if you attempt to change lanes when the light or icon is showing another car in your blindspot. 

ESC (Electronic Stability Control)

4x4 on dirt track

What it does: A pretty sophisticated one, this system keeps a vehicle on the intended path the driver is aiming for. In other words, ESC uses a series of sensors to control engine power, braking and steering to make sure the vehicle is stable during turns. It relies on wheel speed, steering angle and sideways motion among other parameters. ESC is especially important for top-heavy vehicles like trucks or SUVs that are more at risk of rolling over.

Lane-Keeping Assist

multi-lane highway

What it does: This is especially useful when driving on highways or on long roads with multiple lanes. The technology will monitor your position in your lane and apply slight steering if or when you drift into another lane. Additionally, most systems will sound a warning and / or flash a message if you start to drift lanes.

ACC (Active Cruise Control):

graphics of car on wood floor

What it does: ACC of course activates when cruise control is in use but also works in conjunction with EAB (Emergency Automatic Braking). Operation is pretty similar to standard cruise control, you activate it at your desired speed and the car does the rest. The ‘active’ part in ACC also maintains a safe distance from the car in front of you. So if the car ahead brakes, ACC in your car will too. If traffic starts moving faster after a slow area, it’ll speed up too. Great for heavy traffic on highways.

Rear Cross-Traffic Alert

man reversing

What it does: This car safety feature is handy in bust car parks and when reversing into oncoming traffic. It monitors vehicles behind you approaching from the left or right when you’re in reverse. Great if you’re pulling out of a car park between SUVs for example. Most systems sound a warning to let drivers know of approaching cars. Some newer versions also display a camera view.

Pedestrian Detection

pedestrian crossing

What it does: This system is like an upgraded version of EAB, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and Blindspot Monitoring which look for vehicles. Pedestrian Detection can find smaller objects and distinguish between people and trees for example. It’ll alert drivers if a collision with a person is possible by sounding a warning. Like Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. Some will show a camera display too.

End of the day…

Car safety features are hugely important and many people owe their lives to them. For example, airbags have saved 2700 Australian lives and nearly $20 billion since the early 1990s. When driving at night on highways, added safety is really important.


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