Crash safety, car protection – driving licence theory

Crumple zones

Crumple zones

1: Crumple zones

These areas are crumple zones, which means that they are made to crumple in the event of a crash.

Why should they crumple? Is it not better for them to be “rock hard”?
– No, compare with jumping from a roof. You want to have a soft mat underneath to catch you. The same thing applies to a crash – without soft crumple zones, there will be a dead stop, which means that your body is subjected to extreme stress.

Note, however, that the crumple zones are not too soft, as this would lead to you being crushed in the crash.

2: Particularly vulnerable areas

The sides are more vulnerable as the surface for absorbing the crash force is much smaller. Car manufacturers attempt to solve the problem by inserting special pillars which distribute the crash force and by installing side airbags.

Safety belt (seat belt)

  • The safety belt is an extremely good form of crash protection. It is easy to use and the chances of surviving a crash increase dramatically.
  • Tighten the belt properly so that it sits close to the body (remove thick jackets).
  • There are 2 main types of belt in private cars:
    • Two-point belts (waist belts): Only fastens over the waist. Previously the most common type; still sometimes used for the middle seat in the back.
    • Three-point belts: The belt runs across the waist and then diagonally across the body towards the neck. This provides better protection than the two-point belt. Note that the upper part of the belt should sit as close to the neck as possible and not out on the shoulder.
  • Belt tensioners are found in newer cars. This is an automatic system which pulls the belt hard in the event of a crash. This means that you are better protected.
  • For pregnant women, it is better that the belt sits under the belly so that the baby is not squeezed. If you are far into your pregnancy, it may be best not to drive at all, as the child runs the risk of being injured by the steering wheel and airbag in the event of a collision.
  • 40% of drivers who die in traffic were not using a seat belt.

Airbag

  • Sit at least 25 cm from the airbag; otherwise it can injure you when it inflates.
  • It takes just 0.1 second for the airbag to fill up.
  • This can lead to serious injury if the seat belt is not used at the same time.
  • Triggered at speeds over 20–30 km/h.
  • There are different types of airbags:
    • In the steering wheel: This is the most common type which protects the driver in the event of a collision.
    • Front passenger seat: Protects the passenger in front. Note that it must be disconnected if a child safety seat is used.
    • Side airbags: Smaller airbags which protect you in the event of a collision from the side.

Head restraint

  • The head restraint is not a comfort feature; it is an important form of protection for the neck in the event of a collision.
  • Position it so that your head does not pass over the top of the head restraint when leaning back.

Whiplash

  • Whiplash injuries are sustained when the neck is thrown about violently in the event of a collision, damaging the neck muscles.
  • Very common, especially in the event of rear-end collisions.
  • It often passes, but can remain for a long time and involve muscle pain, headaches and difficulties sleeping.
  • Car manufacturers attempt to continuously improve protection for the neck in order to avoid whiplash injuries.

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Last updated 2018-02-28.