Weird and wonderful safety features in new cars

12 September 2019

There’s been a long-term decline in the number of road traffic accidents resulting in death or injury, particularly over the past two decades. This is, in part, down to some of the amazing safety features available in new cars.

In this article, we take a look at some of the strangest historical driving safety features and their modern equivalents plus we explore some of the latest driver assistance features - including dashcams - that are helping drivers today.


Airbags - but not as you know them

Japan is well known for its technical wizardry, but sometimes inventiveness takes a turn towards the unusual. As with a recent design feature by Japanese company car maker Toyoda Gosei. Their car, the Flesby II, has turned the concept of airbags inside out by placing them on the outside of the car.

Created using next generation rubber, these external airbags are highly durable and able to absorb huge amounts of energy from a collision to protect the driver and the car from impact.

Although this is a concept car it’s not the first time external airbags have been considered. Known for their safety prowess, Volvo also toyed with airbags that deployed at the bottom of the windscreen to protect the head of anyone involved in an accident with the vehicle.

Although Volvo dismissed the idea, it seems that Toyoda Gosei are considering the manufacture of some development vehicles in early 2030. Watch this space to see if outer airbags catch on.


If you’ve ever watched a dangerous driving video on YouTube - like the motorway lorry driver cooking a tin of beans on a hotplate on the passenger seat - the chances are it’s been captured on a dashcam.

These video cameras are often mounted on the windscreen or even to the exterior of a car and they’re used to:

  • Capture incidents or dangerous drivers
  • Provide evidence to the police or insurance companies in the event of an accident
  • Resolve disputes about fault in an accident
  • Provide a record of your journeys enabling you to review and improve your driving
  • Capture evidence of anyone tampering with your car - handy if you live in a high crime area

Install one of these cameras in your car and you won’t be alone. Nearly three million motorists have a dashcam following a 14% increase from 1% to 15% in just four years.

This is a much better solution than earlier attempts at driver identification. In the 1930s there were plans to fit cars with hit and run discs that would pop out onto the street if the vehicle collided with a pedestrian. The injured party could pick up a disc and contact the driver or the police. Funnily enough this idea was never implemented.


More modern safety features

If you’re ready to upgrade your personal safety, the best way to do this is by getting behind the wheel of a brand new car. Here’s a quick run down of some of the most common safety features you’ll find in new cars:

  • Tyre pressure monitor - poorly inflated tyres contributed to eight deaths and 120 serious injuries in 2016. Manufacturers are helping drivers to keep on top of this basic but easily overlooked maintenance activity with tyre pressure monitors. This feature will ensure you know when your tyres need some more air giving you better traction and helping you to avoid accidents or injury.
  • Lane drift alert - lets you know when you’re moving out of your lane so you can correct your position reducing the risk of a crash. This is particularly useful for long motorway journeys.
  • Forward collision alert - using cameras, radar or laser - or sometimes all three - this system scans the road ahead and warns you if the distance between your car and the vehicle in front is closing too quickly. You can then adjust your distance and give yourself a better chance to react in case of a collision.
  • Intelligent headlights - being seen is a big help when it comes to avoiding accidents. Intelligent headlights automatically sense when light levels are low and switch your lights on for you.
  • Adaptive cruise control - automatically adjusts your speed to ensure you remain a safe distance from vehicles ahead.
  • Active blind spot monitoring - acts as another set of eyes letting you know when another vehicle is in your blind spot with a beep or a flashing light in your mirror. Great for helping you avoid those gut churning near misses.

Car safety features have come a long way over the years from disc spitting cars to vehicles that actually help drivers from crashing in the first place and dashcams that capture incidents if and when they happen. If you want to drive a brand new car with the latest safety features, login or create your account to begin browsing our huge range of brand new cars.

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