When it comes to your safety or the safety of your family and loved ones you would like to think that no stone would go unturned in providing the very best options. Well we are very fortunate that car manufacturers have kept this in mind over the many years of developing and advancing cars over the years.
Along with trying to develop cars with greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions, car manufacturers have been working carefully to ensure that the people inside their vehicles are kept safe too. in an attempt to answer the question of which one is safer.
We can see that traditional cars will have an advantage over 4x4s when it comes to road safety. While modern 4wd vehicles have similar safety features as there car counterparts, due to their traditionally high centre of gravity, worse braking distances and poor handling characteristics there is more of a chance of getting into an accident in the first place.
In this article we look a little bit closer at the features that should be present to ensure overall safety in both a traditional every day car and enthusiasts 4×4, In terms of quantifying safety, we need to remember that it is not a simple black and white fact when it comes to vehicle safety and continuing on we expand on some of those reasons.
Essential Safety Features in Modern Cars
(Everything the modern road vehicle must have to be considered safe)
To begin with, we are going to look at just what are the most important features that you may not even know exist. A lot of the features in cars now days are taken for granted and we often forget they exist at all. These features have been around for some time now and a lot of newer drivers may not remember having driven in a car that did not have these features.
Cracking Good Safety
The first features we look at is the presence of shatterproof glass. This glass which is mainly used on the windshield is designed to break into small pieces and thanks to the film coating that it has, the pieces will not cause harm to the people inside or outside of the vehicle. This kind of glass can also (and most of the time is) used for other windows on the vehicle as well. This should be a feature on both a traditional car as well as a 4×4 although 4x4s that have been heavily worked on and customized may have forgone the use of it either by accident or as an attempt to save costs. As the most likely case is that both traditional cars and 4x4s will have this feature present means that we can not give the edge in safety to either of them yet.
Seatbelts may surprise you as one of the oldest safety mechanisms provided in modern cars and 4x4s. They have been dated back as far as 1849 but it wasn’t until the 1960s that they became standard equipment for cars and have continued to be improved upon throughout their history up until today. Nowadays we most commonly see the version with a three-point belt that is able to lock up as a result of a sudden increase in inertia. This emergency locking system on the belt can cause bruising and some other minor injuries but has been shown time and time again to stop greater injuries from occurring. Once again, we see that all modern 4x4s, as well as traditional cars, are packed with these safety belts as one of the most important features and as a result, neither one can be given the edge once more
It’s All In Your Head
The next one might be a safety feature that most of us did not even realise was for safety and easily take it for granted. The head restraints or head rest as its commonly known as are designed to stop the occupants of the car from having an unnecessary amount of movement occur in the head and neck in an attempt to limit the risk of neck injury. A head restraint is required on each of the front seats but is not required on the back seats, although we are seeing them more commonly on traditional family sedans. Once more the barer bones modified versions of 4x4s may have had these removed in some cases but for the most part, they will all be equipped with an adequate head restraint, especially in more modern 4x4s. These features may not look like much but are very important and it is a good thing that both traditional cars and 4x4s have them in equal measure.
A Light to Guide You (and everyone else)
The simplest of features can be overlooked but are still important none the less. Brake lights, turn signals and headlights are some of the least obvious “safety” features people may think of and probably not worth mentioning in most cases at all, however, in a 4×4 there is generally a greater deal of wear and tear and this can often cause problems with the more exposed features such as headlights and turn signals. Provided that they are not damaged it is obvious that both traditional cars and 4x4s would be equal here and as we are doing a comparison of features we can not assume that one might have a feature that would be present but not working so this does not count against the 4x4s but it is important to remember to check regularly to ensure that your 4×4 has not sustained any damage to these components.
Bump and Move
There are other smaller safety measures implemented in both traditional cars and 4x4s such as bumpers which serve to provide a level of protection to the body and the engine of a car. 4x4s definitely have a clear advantage here as you will more often than not find a decent bumper on a 4×4. Traditional cars are equipped with a more primitive version that is far less likely to prevent a huge amount of damage from reaching the body or engine.
Advanced Safety Features
(None industry standard features we feel every car should have)
There are three more features in safety that are considered to be hugely important and should be implemented into even the entry level models of all cars and 4x4s that are new to the market.
Making Sure You Lock Is Not Always A Good Thing
Anti-Lock Braking System or ABS is one of the most incredibly important safety features that should be viewed as “no compromise” as it stops the wheels of a vehicle from locking under heavy braking. If the wheels lock up and begin to slide the control over the vehicle becomes almost nothing and can result in unwanted swerving or longer stopping distance potentially putting the occupants of the vehicle at a greater risk.
Being Stable Has Never Been This Important
Electronic Stability Control or ESC is a feature that is designed to detect and prevent the loss of traction from each wheel individually. This is done by the ESC system slowing down one or more wheels in order to prevent the wheels that are losing traction to maintain it. This can help prevent incidences of sliding under heavy cornering or any time that the driver is losing control of the vehicle thus helping the vehicle maintain the desired direction.
Blowing Up, But in a Good Way
Airbags are surprisingly still not required as the industry standard but are almost always present in modern vehicles. Airbags function is very straightforward and simple, to prevent injury from a high impact collision. This is done by the airbag being rapidly inflated at the moment of a sensor detecting a high impact collision and is placed in a way that the passenger will be met by a soft cushion of air rather than hard materials of the vehicle.
While most modern vehicles have these features, they are not always present. In both traditional cars as well as 4x4s these features are mostly found equally meaning that you are likely not going to have a disadvantage in any of these areas regardless of which vehicle you choose to drive. In conclusion to the safety features present in modern-day traditional cars as well as 4x4s it is very much safe to say that neither one of them has a clear advantage in the safety department as a result of features commonly present.
Real World Experience’s.
(Practical implementations of the two kinds of vehicles and our conclusion)
Looking into the topic from a more account-based side, statistically, you are more likely to be involved in a collision in a high riding vehicle, particularly one in a truck-based chassis, due to their high centre of gravity, this also has a massive drawback in that it is more likely to be toppled over, they also generally have a worse braking distances meaning that in an identical scenario the 4×4 is more likely to hit something and poorer handling resulting in a lower chance that the driver will be able to steer to avoid the trouble.
Making things worse, in a crash, a 4×4 is going to do far worse damage to any pedestrian than a car will, and they have a nasty tendency to ride up and over cars, resulting in the car’s occupants being killed by the truck chassis intruding into the crush zone.
Although weight does make difference to the which object comes out on top in a collision there are a huge amount finer factors that come into play when deciding which vehicle choice will be safer. In a similar example when a 4×4 will collide with a traditional vehicle head-on, the traditional vehicle will likely suffer more damage. This is not a representation of which is safer however, the fact that you are less likely to have the collision in the first place with a traditional vehicle is a large advantage.
The fact that they are more likely to be involved in a collision and added the danger of them causing increased damage has led to some safety authorities speaking out and wanting drivers primarily using trucks or 4x4s to meet mandated crash safety performance requirements in light trucks
In a closing statement, it is clear to see that surprisingly the bigger badder 4x4s of today are not necessarily safer. Most of us have a perceived idea that you are safe because you are higher up or inside a vehicle built to be tough but they do still have a very real increased risk of having a collision even though they have all the measures taken to protect the people inside.