The long journey of vehicle safety innovations

It’s strange to think that the first motor vehicles didn’t possess all the features they have today. The development of safety innovations is so intertwined with the evolution of cars that it’s easy to take them for granted. But vehicle safety has become what it is today through the development of technology, information and safety laws./p

Windscreen wipers

The first vehicle safety feature was the windscreen wiper, which is an indication of the rural conditions in which the first vehicles were used. In 1903, the first hand-operated windscreen wipers were developed by a cattle rancher/inventor in Alabama and operated by a lever inside the vehicle. These were followed by electric windscreen wipers in 1926. In 1996, rain-sensing wipers were used for the first time. It shows how far wipers have come over all these years.

Hydraulic brakes

A man named Fred Duesenberg invented hydraulic brakes for use in racing cars, and they were first used for passenger cars in 1921. Unfortunately for Duesenberg, he didn’t patent his idea or he would have made a lot of money. This braking system was being developed almost simultaneously by Malcolm Loughead in the US in 1917. The technology was developed into the self-energising hydraulic brake system that is still used today. The anti-lock or ABS brakes that have made driving safer by preventing the wheels from locking and the car from skidding were introduced in their modern form as far back as the 1950s. Even further back, in 1908, there was a “Slip Prevention Regulator for Rail Vehicles”.

Innovative thinking

From the introduction of safety glass in the 1930s to the padded dashboard that was introduced in the 1960s, vehicle occupants are a lot better off over a century of innovation in safety features. The three-point seatbelts we use today were introduced at the beginning of 1959 and have greatly reduced fatalities and injuries in accidents. Head restraints have been widely used since their introduction in 1968. Airbags are another vehicle innovation that significantly lower risk and have become commonplace since their invention in the 1980s.

What’s next?

Modern cars are built with more safety elements in mind, including side-impact protection and improved traction in the tyres. More advanced vehicles have features such as electronic stability control and a lane departure alert, blind spot monitoring and autonomous braking, which slows the vehicle without driver interference when it senses a collision. Plans are already in place for more advanced technology: V2V technology will allow vehicles to communicate with each other and V2I technology will allow vehicles to communicate with inanimate objects like traffic signs and road signs.

Sources: Wikipedia and Motronix

Being a safe driver means driving safely, having the proper vehicle safety features in place and making provisions. At Avis Fleet, we like to offer our customers total peace of mind that if something does go wrong, we’ll be there to help every step of the way. Our comprehensive fleet management solutions take the sting out of dealing with the unforeseen. Take a look at our accident management solution to see how we can assist you.

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