The Evolution of Car Safety
With cars boasting more and more safety features these days, alongside more infotainment technology, we take a quick look back to see what car safety features existed 60 years ago in comparison to now thanks to the lovely people at SEAT.
By comparing a 1963 SEAT 600D to a SEAT Ibiza FR we can see just how much we have moved on - for the better - in the company of Head of Passive Safety at SEAT, Javier Luzon.
Airbags and headrests
Back in the 60s, the SEAT 600 wasn’t equipped with headrests, whereas now the addition of headrests to a car (like the Ibiza) is a major contribution to preventing whiplash when the car is involved in a low speed collision from the rear.
No surprise either that while some modern SEAT Ibizas have up to six airbags, the SEAT 600 had none, primarily because airbag technology did not become widespread until the 90s.
The seat belt was originally developed in the 1960s, as a safety device but back then it was “an inextensible strap that users had to adjust to their body,” explains Javier Luzón. Even up to the Clunk Click days of the 70's it was just a strap.
Today is so much more different with the seat belt fitting to the user's body as opposed to the other way round, providing a lot more safety in the event of a collision. "This provides more safety in the event of a collision, as the current seat belt system fits snugly on the body and retains the passenger instantly."
The brake system on both models is also completely different.
The SEAT 600 was equipped with (at the time) ground-breaking technology in the shape of drum brakes “with much lower braking power than what can be achieved today,” says Luzón.
Today, cars like the Ibiza feature large diameter disc brakes, wider tyres (for greater road contact) and ABS, a system that prevents cars from skidding out of control when braking.
The actual construction of the car is another safety feature that has evolved over the years, especially when it comes to the chassis, where the evolution can clearly be seen.
Other structures such as the doors are now wider and contain "safety features that give better protection than before in the event of a collision.”
Back in the 60s, much of the technology that features as standard in today's cars, such as the
- 3 point seatbelts on all 3 rear seats
- Active front headrests
- Child locks on rear doors
- Driver and passenger airbags
- Front passenger airbag deactivation
- Front side airbags
- Seatbelt warning
- Tyre pressure monitoring system
all of which feature in the SEAT Ibiza Hatchback 1.2 TSI 90 FR Technology, was just an article on 'Tomorrow's World'' if it was lucky.
Today’s cars offer the highest level of passenger safety, and Javier Luzon predicts that “The next step we will soon see involves cars with the ability to anticipate future events and react accordingly.”
With driverless cars on the horizon, I wouldn't bet against it.