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Understanding car safety features is an important part of both the driving test and being a confident new driver.

If you’ve checked out our blog post on buying your first car, you’ll know that understanding safety features is a key part of choosing the right vehicle for you.

For all of you drivers looking to learn more about how the safety features that we know and trust came to be, we’ve got an overview here. And if you want to know more about how these keep you safe and how to understand them properly, you can always ask your instructor!

Over the last 120 or so years, cars have (understandably) been subjected to numerous design revamps. Here is a guide on how car safety features have changed over the years…

The 1800s

The first electric headlamps were introduced in 1898 on the Columbia Electric Car from the Electric Vehicle Company, and were optional. The short life of filaments in the harsh automotive environment, and the difficulty of producing dynamos effective enough prevented the widespread use of these first headlamps.

Windscreen Wipers

1903- The first windscreen wipers were hand operated. Inventor Mary Anderson is credited with creating the first operational windshield wiper in 1903. It was operated via a lever from inside the car.

1926 – Bosch invented the first electric windscreen wipers in 1926. Bosch now has the world’s biggest windscreen wiper factory, located in Tienen, Belgium, which produces 350,000 wiper blades every day!

1996 – In 1996, Cadillac invented the first rain-sensing wipers!

Safety Glass

In 1930, safety glass became standard on all Ford cars.

Crash-Test Dummies

Until the use of crash-test dummies in the 1940s, manufacturers would use cadavers and live animals (such as pigs) when testing cars. In 1949″Sierra Sam” was created by Samuel W. Alderson at the Alderson Research Labs with the intention of being used to test aircraft ejection seats, aviation helmets and pilot restraint harnesses. The dummies have been used in car tests ever since.

The 1950s

1951 – German engineer Walter Linderer patented the airbag. Linderer’s airbag was released by bumper contact or by the driver. Research in the 1960s revealed that compressed air could not inflate Linderer’s airbag fast enough for maximum safety, and it was ruled an impractical system. 1964 saw a Japanese inventor improve the system.

1952 – The crumple zone was invented by engineer BĂ©la BarĂ©nyi for Mercedez-Benz. BarĂ©nyi questioned the assumption that a safe car had to be rigid. He divided the car body into three sections: the rigid non-deforming passenger compartment and the crumple zones in the front and the rear.

1958 – Anti-lock braking systems were tested in the Royal Enfield Super Meteor motorbike.

1959 – 3 point seatbelts became the standard, after being first featured in Volvos.

The 1990s

1996 – Mercedes invent the brake assist system.

1998 – The first blind spot warning system was installed in Volvos and gas inflated airbags became mandatory in all American cars.

The 2000s

2010 – Volvo created a pedestrian detection system, which automatically brakes a car whenever someone steps out in front of it.

The Future

Google’s driver-less cars were made legal in Nevada, USA in 2012, yet Google are still attempting to lobby for driver-less car laws! They also wish to collaborate, regarding their self-driving technology, with companies such as Audi and Lexus.

Here at Awards Driving School, we are dedicated to nurturing and guiding our clients towards becoming extremely safe, accomplished and confident drivers. If you are looking for driving lessons in Leicester please do not hesitate to contact us for more information!