Vehicle safety features have come a long way over the years. Features such as crumple zones, seat belts and airbags all provide protection if you have a crash, however active safety assist technologies which can prevent a crash from occurring are now a significant point of differentiation.
The combination of a sound structure, good restraint systems and active safety assist technologies provided the best chance of survival in a crash. You may even avoid one altogether.
The safety of a car is based around:
Structural integrity – how the shell of a vehicle withstands and channels crash forces away from occupants. This varies substantially from make to make and model to model. A sound structure is vital when it comes to saving lives.
Passive safety features – built-in safety features such as airbags, antilock braking systems (ABS), electronic stability control (ESC), seat belts and seat belt pre-tensioners help prevent or manage the forces of impact. All are critical features.
Safety assist technologies – semi-autonomous and autonomous safety technologies which assist the driver in avoiding or reducing the severity of a crash. These include blind spot monitoring (BSM) autonomous emergency braking (AEB), active lane keep assist (LKA) and intelligent speed adaptation (ISA).
Explore these important vehicle safety features...
ESC & ABS
A sound structure is vital when it comes to saving lives.
In a vehicle with sound structural integrity, most of the crash energy is absorbed and dissipated through the vehicle itself, rather than its occupants. The passenger compartment will also keep its shape.
The steering column, dash, roof pillars, pedals and floor panels will not move excessively, where they are more likely to injure the occupants. Doors will remain closed during the crash and will be able to be opened after the crash to assist quick rescue.
ESC & ABS
What is ESC?
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) has many different names depending on the make of the vehicle, but they all operate in the same manner.
ESC may also be referred to as Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Active Stability Control (ASC) or Vehicle Stability Control (VSC).
How does ESC work?
Imagine the sudden appearance of an obstacle on the freeway. A driver's natural reaction is to quickly steer away to avoid colliding with the obstacle.
This sudden movement can lead to the vehicle swerving sharply one way and then sharply back the other way causing the vehicle to slide, skid uncontrollably or perhaps even roll, often resulting in a serious crash. ESC helps avoid this situation.
By constantly monitoring the position and direction of the car with where the driver is steering, ESC can detect that the vehicle is not travelling in the direction intended.
The system intervenes, instantly manipulating the delivery of engine power and controlling the brake pressure applied to each individual wheel. By taking over, ESC helps to return the vehicle to a straighter and safer line. ESC also assists in controlling a vehicle on unexpectedly tight corners, or on a slippery section of the road. Research shows significant reductions in run-off-road crashes when ESC is fitted.
ESC is particularly beneficial in large vehicles which have a higher centre of gravity, such as SUVs.
What is ABS?
Antilock Braking Systems (ABS) prevent the wheels of a vehicle locking as brake pedal pressure is applied - often suddenly in an emergency or short stopping distance.
This enables the driver to retain steering control, preventing skidding and loss of traction.
ABS is particularly useful on loose surfaces or in wet conditions.
Frontal airbags deploy on impact in head-on or offset (usually where an oncoming vehicle collides at an angle on the driver's side) collisions where the force of impact is greater than hitting a solid wall at a speed greater than 25 km/h. The airbag reduces the impact when the driver or front passenger is propelled forward as the vehicle rapidly reduces speed during a crash. Frontal airbags typically deflate after impact.
Knee airbags are designed to prevent serious injury arising from an impact with the dashboard or steering column.
Side airbags are an important innovation in vehicle safety equipment for protecting occupants in side impact crashes such as at intersections or when a vehicle veers off the road and crashes side-on into an object like a pole or tree. Side airbags protect the head and the torso for both front and rear seat occupants. These airbags may also offer protection in rollover crashes or when two vehicles collide at an angle.
Centre-mounted airbags are designed to provide cushioning between the heads of the two front-seat occupants in side impact or rollover crashes. These airbags deploy from the side of the driver’s seat and can minimise neck and spine twist injuries.
Curtain airbags provide additional safety for the head of passengers seated in the front or rear. They are particularly effective against collision with narrow objects such as poles and trees. Unlike frontal airbags, curtain airbags remain inflated after impact reducing the risk of an unbelted occupant being thrown from the vehicle in a rollover crash.
Mounted externally at the base of the windscreen, pedestrian airbags designed to protect the head of a struck adult pedestrian. Pedestrian airbags inflate to cover the lower portion of the windscreen and A-pillars and ‘hard’ components such as the windscreen wipers, and deploy at speeds of between 20 to 50 km/h.
All occupants should wear retractable three-point sash style seat belts with pre-tensioner technology that helps prevent or manage the forces of impact during a crash. Lap only belts are less safe.
Audible seat belt reminders are valuable devices that encourage all occupants to wear their seat belts. In nearly 20% of all fatalities on Australian roads, no seat belt was being worn.
Child restraints should be properly fitted and conform to Australian Standards, including anchor points (top tether). For more information, visit
Approximately 90% of crashes involve some form of human error.
The following Safety Assist technologies are active, generally automated, safety features which can prevent a crash or reduce the impact of a crash.
Explore these active safety systems...
collision warning & avoidance
braking & stability
collision warning & avoidance
Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
AEB systems use ESC and sensor technology to detect the speed and distance of objects in the vehicle’s path and automatically brake if the driver does not respond in order to avoid or minimise the severity of an accident.
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
ACC uses radar or similar technology to detect vehicles travelling in the same lane ahead, and controls the vehicle speed in order to maintain a safe and suitable travelling distance.
Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM)
BSM systems monitor the driver’s “blind spot” in adjacent lanes and warn the driver if a vehicle is present through either a visual or audible alarm or vibration of the steering wheel.
Following Distance Warning
Following distance warning systems use radar to determine the distance to the vehicle travelling in front, and warn the driver if the distance is too close.
Hill Launch Assist
Hill launch assist systems automatically use the brake to hold the vehicle stationary while the driver moves their foot from the brake pedal to accelerator pedal.
Intersection Collision Warning
Intersection collision warning systems use radar systems or similar to detect if vehicles are approaching from the side at intersections and alert the driver of a possible collision.
Lane Support Systems (LSS) / Lane Keep Assist (LKA)
LSS recognise lane markings and alert the driver through either an audible or visual warning or vibration of the steering wheel if the vehicle is leaving the lane without indicating. Active systems may automatically steer the vehicle back within the lane if the driver fails to do so.
Pre-crash systems detect that a collision will occur and take action preparing the vehicle and the occupants for the impact. Some examples are reducing slack in seat belts, adjusting seating positions, and shutting windows.
Reversing Collision Avoidance
Reversing collision avoidance systems are driver aids, such as reversing camera or sensors, to help identify objects in the path of the reversing vehicle.
braking & stability
Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
ESC systems detect if a vehicle is about to lose traction during cornering and braking and adjust the braking to individual wheels to maintain vehicle stability.
Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)
EBD systems intelligently distribute the brake forces between wheels to maximise the available traction at each point.
Emergency Brake Assist (EBA)
EBA systems detect that brakes have been applied in an emergency, and assist the driver by providing extra force to the brakes improving braking performance.
Speed Alarm (Manual)
A speed alarm alerts the driver when the vehicle exceeds a (pre-set) speed.
Intelligent Speed Alert Systems (ISA)
Intelligent speed alert systems determine the speed limit of the vehicle location and alert the driver if the vehicle is over the speed limit (passive alert). Active speed alert systems are able to limit the speed of the vehicle automatically.
Top Speed Limiter
A top speed limiter results in a vehicle not being able to travel above a set speed for an extended time. The limit must be no more than 120km/h.
Attention Assist (Fatigue Detection)
Attention assist systems use sensors to monitor driver attention and detect drowsiness, alerting the driver and prompting a break.
A fatigue reminder system monitors the length of continuous driving (trip timer) and encourages the driver to take a rest through visual alert messages which are displayed for the driver.
Roll Stability System
Roll stability systems are an advanced form of electronic stability control that are capable of detecting a potential rollover and initiating corrective action to stabilise the vehicle.
Rollover Occupant Protection Systems
Rollover occupant protection systems detect a rollover and deploy systems such as curtain airbags, which are designed to stay inflated longer than frontal airbags.
Rollover warning systems monitor vehicle dynamics and detect, then alert the driver, of an increased risk of rollover.
Adaptive Front Lighting Systems
Adaptive front lighting systems are headlights that adjust their direction when turning corners/curves or on hills providing enhanced driver vision at night time or in poor light conditions.
Automatic headlight systems detect low levels of light and automatically activate the headlights.
Automatic High Beam
Automatic high beam systems use forward facing sensor systems to detect vehicles ahead and switch high beam lights on and off accordingly, maximising driver vision.
Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
Daytime running lights are lights specially designed to be ON during daytime driving, improving the visibility of the vehicle to other road users.
Emergency Stop Signal (ESS)
ESS systems provide a signal, such as the flashing of hazard lights, alerting vehicles behind that severe braking has been applied.
Night Vision Enhancement
Night vision enhancement systems improve driver vision during night driving through intelligent or high intensity lighting.
connected roads & cars
connected roads & cars
Automatic Emergency Call (eCall)
Automatic emergency call systems detect when the vehicle has been involved in a severe collision and alert emergency services with a location.
Traffic Sign Recognition
Traffic sign recognition systems are based on optical recognition technology and assist the driver in recognising and interpreting traffic signs.
Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) Communications
V2V and V2I are advanced communication systems which allow vehicles to communicate with other vehicles as well as infrastructure, providing drivers with information such as upcoming hazards, emergency vehicles, and traffic light changes.
Three Point Seat Belts (3PSB)
Three point seat belts incorporate both a lap and sash belt in a unitised configuration. Three-point seat belts provide superior protection compared to two-point lap seat belts, spreading the load over the chest, pelvis and shoulders.
Seat Belt Reminders (SBR)
Seat belt reminders alert the driver when passengers are not wearing their seat belts.
Seat Belt Interlocks
Seat belt interlocks require the driver to put on their seat belt before the vehicle can be driven.
Head restraints are attached to the top of each seat and limit the rearward movement of an adult occupant's head, relative to the torso, in a rear end collision.
Top Tether (TT) Anchorages for Child Restraints
Top tether anchorages are upper anchorage points for second [and third] row seating positions that provide connection so that child restraints may be adequately secured to the vehicle.
Side Airbags / Head Protecting Technology (HPT)
Head-protecting side airbags can be either side torso airbags (which deploy from the side of the seat and extend upwards to protect the head) or curtain airbags (which deploy from the roof sill downwards to protect the head), or a combination of the two.
Driver Knee Airbags
Driver knee airbags are designed to protect the knees of the driver in the event of a serious collision.
Inflatable Seat Belts
Inflatable seat belts house a tubular airbag within the webbing of the belt which inflates during a crash to provide increased head support and spread seat belt loading to occupants.
Additional Occupant Protection Airbags
Additional occupant protection airbags are extra airbags that are not assessed by the current ANCAP tests. For instance additional occupant protection airbags may include rear seat frontal airbags or rear seat thorax airbags.
Alcohol/Drug Ignition Interlock
Alcohol/drug ignition interlock systems require the driver to 'pass' a breath (alcohol) test in order for the vehicle to be driven.
Trailer Stability Control
Trailer stability control systems recognise the early stages of dangerous trailer sway and apply the vehicle's brakes to stabilise the trailer.
Electronic Data Recorder (EDR)
Similar to a black box on an aircraft, EDR systems record important information, such as speed and traction, in the event of a severe collision.
A smart key can be programmed to place operating restrictions on a vehicle, such as time of day, or maximum speed.
Tyre Pressure Monitoring (TPM)
TPM systems use sensors to alert the driver when tyre pressure drops below a designated pressure.
The ANCAP safety rating program provides independent assessments of the presence and effectiveness of safety assist technologies available to Australian and New Zealand consumers.
The following driver assistance functions are assessed as part of our overall star rating system...
Autonomous Emergency Braking
Lane Support Systems
Speed Assistance Systems
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