3 Important Car Safety Features To Be Thankful For

Most of us get into a vehicle every day. Automotive travel has become such an established part of our lives that we probably do not give much thought to our safety while onboard a vehicle of any kind. While safety should always be foremost on our minds as drivers and passengers, we have good reason not to be overly worried about getting into a vehicle. Through the years, automotive manufacturers have invested heavily in the development of innovative safety features, which have saved countless lives on the road.

Here is a little history on three major car safety features for which we should all be very thankful:

Safety Belts – Safety belts were first introduced as standard  by the Swedish automobile manufacturer, Saab, in 1958. Earlier, in 1946, California neurologist, Dr. C. Hunter Sheiden  first conceived of the idea of seat belts. His concern arose greatly from the high number of head injuries he saw in emergency rooms. His research was published in a 1955 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). He proposed not only the retractable seat belt, but many other automotive safety measures. By 1968, the U. S. Code, Chapter 301, Motor Vehicle Safety Standard required that all vehicles, with the exception of buses, have seat belts installed in all designated seating positions.

Airbags – American Industrial Engineer, John Hetrick was issued a United States patent in 1953 for the first of his airbag designs. His approach was to apply his experiences with compressed air from torpedoes during his service in the Navy to a device that would provide protection during automobile accidents. Although Hetrick worked with the major American automobile corporations at the time, the airbag concept’s first commercial use did not occur until 1971, when it was tested in a few Ford cars. By September 1, 1998, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 went into effect, and required that all cars and light trucks sold in the United States have air bags on both sides of the front seat.

Safety Glass Windows

The concept of shatter-resistant glass was discovered inadvertently in 1903 by the French chemist Edouard Benedictus. When he dropped a glass flask filled with a dried collodion film, he observed that the glass coated with the film cracked, but retained its shape. A few decades later this laminated glass began to be installed  in automobiles. In 1970, the U.S. government formed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Since that time, four Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) for automotive glass have been enacted, greatly improving driver and passenger safety during collisions.

Whether you are traveling near or far, I wish you safe travels and a very Happy Thanksgiving!


Are You Ready for Winter Driving?

We are well into fall, and winter weather is just around the corner! Get ready for winter driving with these simple winter maintenance tips:

  • Inspect Your Tire Tread & Check Tire Pressure 
    Be sure to check your tire tread depth. Make sure you have at least 2/32″ of depth for best tire performance.  It is also important to check tire pressure. This should be done on a regular basis, but it is especially imperative to check tire pressure before winter arrives. Remember to also check your spare – you never know when you’ll need it.
  • Make Sure Your Antifreeze Tank Is Full
    It is important to maintain a full tank with a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze. Clean, quality antifreeze will deliver the winter protection your vehicle needs.
  • Test and Inspect Your Battery
    Extreme cold temperatures can degrade car batteries internally and accelerate the rate of battery terminal corrosion. This will lead to a battery that is more likely to die. Don’t risk getting stranded! Check your battery cables to make sure they are clean and firmly attached to the terminals.
  • Check Your Washer Fluid & Wipers
    We use much more washer fluid in the winter, when dirty slush and snow continually hit the windshield. Keep the washer fluid tank full. Choose a winter cleaning formula that contains sufficient antifreeze ingredients to keep it from freezing. Also, be sure that your wipers are in decent shape to do their job. The blades should make full contact with the glass to thoroughly clean it. If you live in an area with heavy snow fall, consider installing winter wiper blades that wrap the blade frame in a rubber boot to reduce ice and snow buildup, and promote good contact between the blade and the glass.

Once you have take these maintenance steps, you will be ready to face the ice and snow. Most importantly, in seriously hazardous winter driving conditions, remember to take it slowly and drive safely!

All-Wheel Drive and Four-Wheel Drive

Although the terms may sound similar, all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive are very different systems. On all-wheel drive vehicles, the drivetrain has a front, rear and center differential to provide power to all four wheels of a vehicle. On a four-wheel drive vehicle, the drivetrain has two differentials and a transfer case to provide power to all four wheels of a vehicle. All-wheel drive is found on cars and crossover vehicles, while trucks and truck-based sport utility vehicles usually have four-wheel drive. Both all-wheel and four-wheel drive systems improve vehicle acceleration in slippery conditions, and can enable better handling on some types of roads or terrain.

All-wheel drive and  four-wheel drive can be worth the extra investment if you live in an area that gets heavy rain or snowfall for much of the year. Also, if you tend to do a lot of off-road driving or driving on unpaved roads, all-wheel or four-wheel drive will be a highly beneficial investment for you. Additional advantages to having all-wheel drive or four wheel drive include better traction with towing and often in some cases, added resale value.

There are drawbacks to having an all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle. All-wheel and four-wheel drive systems mean lower fuel economy and often require more maintenance than standard vehicles. An advantage that four-wheel drive offers that  all-wheel drive does not is that it can be turned off, so you can only use it when you need it, saving that extra fuel cost.

If you are considering whether or not to invest in an all-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicle for safer winter driving, keep in mind that selecting the right type of tire may be the best thing you can do to enhance safety and performance.