What are the Differences between Active and Passive Safety Features on Cars?

March 2, 2022
safety features

As technology advances, the automobile industry continues to strive to make cars and trucks safer. Ever since the invention of the motorized vehicle, manufacturers have attempted to make it safer for drivers and passengers. But as the car and truck accident statistics show each year, we still have a long way to go. There are still too many people being seriously injured or killed in car accidents every year on our roads and highways. But every year, newer model vehicles become safer.

For most of the history of the automobile, car designers focused on passive safety devices and systems. However, over the past few decades, the focus has been to incorporate active safety features, devices, and systems into the design of new vehicles. A passive safety feature is any safety system that reacts to a collision and attempts to keep occupants safe, but only after a collision occurs. Active safety features are those that attempt to avoid collisions altogether.

Passive Safety Features

Passive safety features are parts of the vehicle that protect you in case of an accident. This type of safety feature is part of the whole structure and design of the vehicle. Here are some examples of passive safety features:

  • Crumple zones in front-end collisions absorb collision energy to keep passengers safe.
  • Seats with head restraints prevent neck injuries when the person in front seat suddenly stops.
  • Seat belts.
  • Airbags.
  • Side-impact beams prevent or reduce injury from a sideways impact.
  • Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) help you maintain control during sudden braking.
  • High strength and shatterproof glass.
  • Active aerodynamics work together with active suspension to improve handling while minimizing extra drag.

Depending on the vehicle, there could also be many other passive safety features that protect the occupants of vehicles when accidents occur.

Active Safety Features

Active safety features are types of mechanisms that increase your safety by actively trying to avoid car accidents. This is done in many ways. Some systems accomplish their goal by communicating with you and your vehicle. Here are some examples of active safety features:

  • Active cruise control keeps a safe distance from the cars in front of you.
  • Active self-correcting steering systems or lane assist makes sure to stay in your lane.
  • Active brake assist automatically applies brakes harder for maximum braking power when it senses an emergency stop.
  • ABS prevent wheel lockup by monitoring driver commands and correcting skidding during hard stops.
  • Active headlight beam aiming systems highlight and follow the road ahead more precisely than conventional headlights.

Active safety features are either electronically or hydraulically controlled. The first active electronic safety features were introduced on Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class in 2003. Currently, Mercedes’ active electronic safety systems include drowsiness detection, active night vision with pedestrian recognition, active brake assist with occupant position detection, and active lane keeping assist. The active suspension system M active body control (ABC) was introduced on the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class in 2010.

Active safety features improve either vehicle or driver safety by reducing the likelihood of an accident or by minimizing injuries if an accident occurs. For example, active cruise control adjusts your speed to keep a safe distance from cars ahead of you; active wheel steering improves road stability, and active suspension improves the ride; active brake assist increases braking power for greater stopping distance; active ABS reduce wheel lockup during an emergency stop; active headlight aiming systems make sure your headlights point where you are driving for maximum visibility.

West Chester Car Accident Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Help Injured Clients Recover from Car and Truck Accidents

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car or truck accident, the West Chester car accident lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. are available to help. Our experienced legal team can help you recover damages to pay for medical bills related to your accident as well as any lost income you incurred. Call us at 610-565-3701 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. Located in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.