Crash avoidance and crash protection

Vehicle engineering improvements for safety have been achieved by modifying the vehicle to help the driver or rider avoid a crash and by modifying the vehicle to provide protection against injury in the event of a crash for those inside and outside the vehicle.




Crash protection or secondary safety or passive safety

Protection in the event of a crash e.g. seat belts, airbags, front and side impact protection

Crash avoidance or primary safety

Devices to avoid a crash e.g. daytime running lights, electronic stability control, intelligent speed adaptation, alcolocks

The term active safety is often used to mean crash avoidance but care should be taken in its use since it can also mean deployable systems such as crash-protective pop-up bonnets for pedestrian protection



New technologies are emerging which can help the vehicle to play its part in crash prevention. Some technologies such as electronic stability control, while not yet universally fitted, are already showing substantial road safety returns. Other effective and available road safety technologies e.g. intelligent speed adaptation will require public and political support before universal adoption. Much work is being carried out on promising technologies such as collision avoidance systems but their usefulness in addressing high-risk crash scenarios typical of most European roads is yet to be determined [118].

For the short to medium term, therefore, preventing or reducing death and serious injury in the event of a crash continues to be the major role for vehicle safety improvements. As stated in the World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention “a traffic system better adapted to the physical vulnerabilities of its users needs to be created with the use of more crash protective vehicles and roadsides”


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