Safety Features Worth a More Detailed Mention

As a safe and responsible driver, you want to be familiar with important protection systems that are standard on most newer vehicles. These safety features are ABS, or anti-lock braking systems, and SRS, or Supplemental Restraint Systems – airbags. They are both important enough to the safe operation of your vehicle that it is worth taking a closer look at them.

Every time you depress the brake pedal on a vehicle with standard brakes, you pump fluid to the brake pads in your wheels. That stops your vehicle. Unfortunately, if you slam down and hold your brake pedal in a hard or emergency stop, your wheels can lock up. You no longer control the vehicle, and steering and stopping become very difficult, if not impossible.

Enter Anti-Lock Brakes, or ABS. These advanced braking systems supply brake fluid to your wheels and brakes with sensors. In a vehicle equipped with ABS, you do want to depress and hold the brake pedal down in a hard or sudden stop. With ABS, your wheels should not lock up if you do that. And you’ll have the best chance of steering your vehicle safely.

Every time you start your vehicle, you should see an “ABS” dashboard lamp illuminate and go out after a couple of seconds. If the light stays on or if it comes on while you are driving, you may have lost ABS capabilities. This does not mean you have lost your brakes. You will now have to pump the pedal, though, as you make any hard or emergency stop just like with standard brakes. If you just hold the brake pedal down as you normally would with functioning ABS, your wheels may, in fact, lock up. Know if any vehicle you operate has ABS or standard brakes. If the dashboard ABS lamp is lit any time it shouldn’t be, have your brakes examined as soon as possible. Don’t wait for a failure.

Airbag systems are not stand alone features. Remember, the technical name is Supplemental Restraint System – supplemental. Always use both SRS and seatbelts if you have them. Airbags prevent you or a passenger from being thrust into the steering wheel or dash. Seatbelts keep you from being ejected from your vehicle. So you must use both systems together as one to have full protection in a crash. As with ABS, look for a dashboard light. You might also see stickers affixed to your sun visor or dashboard showing “SRS.” They will indicate if you have airbags. Unless you are driving an older vehicle, chances are you have SRS installed in your car.

You probably know that airbags explode and inflate in a fraction of a second upon sensing the preprogrammed force of an impact. In fact, the explosion can reach speeds of 200 mph!

Such explosions occur with a huge amount of force. Consequently, you can actually suffer injuries from a deploying airbag. That said, the injuries will probably be less severe than if you were pushed into the dash face first.

Take precautions to avoid injury from deploying airbags. Adjust your driver’s seat so you can reach the gas and brake pedals but are not sitting right up against the steering wheel.
Also, position your hands at the newly adopted three o’clock and nine o’clock positions on the steering wheel. Having your hands this far apart still gives you full control of your vehicle but can help to minimize hand and wrist injuries if your airbags deploy. Actually, you may see it suggested that one hand is somewhere between three and five o’clock and the other between seven and nine. If you take a look at the steering wheels of newer vehicles, you’ll see that they are designed for this newer placement recommendation.

Finally, keep younger children, especially those with a very slight build, out of the front seat. A deploying airbag can cause very serious injuries to a child (by the way, the same is true for pets). Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles advises that “children should be in the rear seats until at least aged twelve since deployed front seat airbags can be dangerous to children.”

Again, for older children with slight builds, keep them in back for their own safety and your peace of mind.

Source: FARS 2011 – 2019 Final File, 2020 ARF

 Seatbelts save lives, plain and simple. Do you see the importance of the numbers of those who wore seatbelts and survived a crash versus those without seatbelts? If you are properly “buckled up,” your lap belt will keep you from being ejected from your vehicle in a crash. Your shoulder belt will keep you from being thrust forward into the steering wheel or dashboard. This, combined with your airbag system should keep you as safe as possible. Always keep lap belts secure around your hips and shoulder belts across your torso. If your vehicle has automatic shoulder straps that move into place when your vehicle is started, don’t get a false sense of security from them. You still need to manually buckle your lap belt.

            Younger children are not protected with standard seatbelts. That’s because standard seatbelts are designed for adults. Children under a height of four feet nine inches and weighing less than eighty pounds are not likely to be protected by either the lap belt or shoulder belt. That’s because shoulders belts are positioned for an adult torso and lap belts do not fit snugly around the hips of younger children. Furthermore, their hips are not fully developed so the belt won’t sit properly. And one last thing. Seatbelts are uncomfortable for many people, young and old, to wear. This is also true for children who won’t hesitate to attempt to unbuckle the seatbelt or at least wriggle out of it. Now, you have a child passenger who might as well be unrestrained. Be sure you have an approved child car or booster seat for every child you transport. Always make sure the seat is secured properly in the back seat of your vehicle. This is typically accomplished using the vehicle’s seat belt system, but you should always consult the seat or booster manufacturer’s instructions. You can secure a child in a car or booster seat, but if the seat itself is not secured within the vehicle? Is there any need to ask about what could happen in a crash? And if you are stopped? A sixty dollar fine for improperly secured or unsecured children.

Florida 2022 Statutes Title XXIII Chapter 316 Section 613

Child restraint requirements. —
(1)(a) Every operator of a motor vehicle …shall, if the child is 5 years of age or younger, provide for protection of the child by properly using a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device.

 Properly adjusted headrests can be a life saver in rear end collisions. They stop your head from snapping back, preventing serious neck injuries. If adjusted well, the head restraint will be against the back of your head and even with the middle of your ear. Are they made to be removable from vehicles? Yes. Should you remove them? NO!

Tranducir or Translate »