Safety Features of Cars

Essay by SteelixHigh School, 11th grade March 2008

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In this essay, I will be outlining the safety issues presented in cars of today, as well as the safety features that have been implemented to prevent them, and the physics behind how they work. To begin, I will explain the reason behind the device most commonly associated with vehicle safety, and saving lives.

When a car collides with an object such as a wall, it exerts a force upon the wall, which exerts an equal and opposite force on the car, and this causes the car to rapidly decelerate. Without a seatbelt, the passenger(s) in the car are not attached to the car, and so they will continue to move at the constant velocity the car was travelling (This is Newton's first law.) This causes serious injury, and often death to the passengers, because they will collide with the dash, steering wheel, door/windows and roof, or even exit the vehicle through the windshield, depending on the speed the car was traveling before the collision.

The seat belt is implemented to prevent (Or at least minimize) this occurrence. The most common type of seat belt is the lap-sash belt, which is attached to the car on either side of the seat and at the central or rear pillar above and behind the passenger's shoulder. One strap passes between the two floor connections over the passenger's lap, which holds the passenger down and stops upward movement. The other strap (The sash) passes from the pillar diagonally over the passenger's shoulder and body to the floor. This holds the passenger firmly to the back of the seat, preventing forward movement. When the car rapidly decelerates from a collision, the passenger's body moves forward as before, however, it now exerts a force upon the sea belt, which is locked in place and...