Active vs passive car safety features

Sheen Resources
Car Safety
Sheen Group
January 5, 2023
April 19, 2023
3.5 minute read

Car accident statistics paint several pictures about the state of our roads. Since 1970, every single calendar year has seen a decrease in deaths on our roads — we are now at about a third of what we were. While car crashes involving a single vehicle are common, accidents involving two or more vehicles dominate the statistics.

In fact, the statistics show that 90% of these multiple-car accidents are avoidable. Most were caused by human error, and can be put down to one or a combination of three things:

  • Distracted driving
  • Driving under fatigue
  • Travelling slightly above the speed limit

These avoidable accidents add up. To put a dollar amount on the damage, road trauma costs almost as much as our defence budget. But these can be prevented. And according to representatives from the National Road Safety Partnership Program (NRSPP), the more safety features a car has, the safer the occupants will be.

Sheen Panel Service is here to help you stay safe in all aspects of road use. If you are ever involved in a car accident and require panel beating, we can offer you a superior service from one of our convenient locations.

Passive versus active safety measures

So what is the difference between active and passive safety features in cars? The answer is simple. Active safety features prevent accidents from happening. Passive safety features lessen the chance of death and serious injury in instances where an accident is unavoidable.

What are active car safety features?

Active car safety features are on the cutting edge of road safety technology. These safety measure are designed and implemented to prevent accidents before they happen. They typically harness emerging technologies to grant drivers greater awareness. Certain technologies even facilitate our human sense, allowing drivers to have greater prescience over the actions of other road users before they happen.

Here are some examples of active safety features common in new cars today:

  • Automatic emergency braking. The car will detect a slow-down or stop in traffic ahead and alert the driver. If the driver takes no action, the brakes will slow the vehicle down gradually.
  • Forward collision warning. This technology is similar to automatic emergency braking. It will alert the driver to danger, but will not automatically apply the brake.
  • Adaptive cruise control. ACC allows drivers to set the speed limit, just like normal cruise control. However, this technology responds to other road users, braking when necessary to mirror the traffic around it.
  • Lane departure warning. This technology stops drivers from drifting over into other lanes. Some instances of the technology can even help the driver avoid gutters and drains.
  • Lane-keeping assist. This technology is similar to the above mentioned LDW. LKA goes a step further in helping the driver stay in the right lane by steering the car for up to 40 seconds.
  • Blind spot monitoring. Another handy awareness tool, this technology actively monitors the blind spot over the shoulder, reporting hazards with a warning light.
  • Rear-cross traffic alert. A boon for parents and toddlers. This technology allows drivers to more effectively reverse out of car parks and driveways.

Active safety measures are highly developed and rigorously tested. To receive a 5-star AANCAP safety rating, vehicles need to possess most of the above mentioned features.

What are passive car safety features?

Passive car safety features are safety measures included in the vehicle to aid passengers in the event of the crash. These are typically included as part of the car's design, and are often the last line of defence against serious injury and death.

Passive safety features include:

  • Airbags that deploy when the car rapidly decelerates beyond braking speed
  • Seatbelts which lock into place, preventing passengers from ejection and impact
  • The structure of the car, fitted with crumple zones and high strength glass

All the technology in the world cannot prevent tragedy — it's a fact of life that some accidents are simply unavoidable. However, if your car possesses high-quality passive safety measures, you and your passengers will be far more likely to survive a serious road incident.

In summary, passive and active safety measure work in tandem to keep you safe. Neither category is more important than the other — they just come into play at different times. In the end, road safety comes down to you. Do your best to protect your family by driving to the speed limit, with alertness, and full focus on the road ahead.

When it comes to staying safe on the road, Sheen Panel Service is in the know. For superior panel beating at locations all over Melbourne, get in touch with our friendly team.


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