Vehicle safety is a concern for all road users
Car safety components and some design aspects of vehicles help to avoid a crash occurring or protect the occupants when a crash occurs.
Electronic stability control
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is an active safety system that helps prevent crashes by helping the driver to retain control of their vehicle when changing direction. Also known as, Electronic Stability Program (ESP®) Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Active Stability Control (ASC).
ESC uses a variety of sensors to determine if the vehicle is heading in the direction that the driver is steering. If it is not it applies the brakes on each wheel individually to bring the vehicle back into line.
ESC uses many of the components of ABS and traction control to reduce cost, however it is a separate system and works differently. ESC has been very successful in reducing crashes. Research has shown that it can reduce single vehicle crashes by up to 60%.
The idea that some vehicle colours are safer than others seem to be ingrained into the psyche of average Western Australian motorists. Most of us believe that our car is an extension of our personality. Psychologists have long sought to identify common stereotypes within society by reference to the colour, size and shape of car an individual chooses to drive.
According to a 1997 survey by RAC colour sends a clear message to other motorists, for instance:
- White - distant, dutiful, aloof and methodical.
- Red - outgoing and impulsive, prefers spontaneity and creativity, easily bored.
- Silver - associated with style and success, but can tend towards pompous.
- Blue - team-player, sociable, but lacking imagination.
- Green - class-conscious and traditional in outlook and short on originality.
- Grey - expresses understated taste, safe and cautious.
- Black - first choice of success-driven and ambitious; a conspicuous statement of status.
Our ability to perceive objects depends upon the contrast they have with their background and other objects around them. The most commonly given reason by drivers involved in a crash is that they didn't see the vehicle early enough to take evasive action.
- A number of studies have shown the colour difference between a target and its background plays a major role in determining its conspicuity (or visibility).
- A set of nine colours, which have maximum contrast and give a satisfactory contrast for red-green deficient and colour-normal observers, was identified in 1965. In essence, black contrasts maximally with white; yellow with black; purple with yellow etc.
- Where the background is primarily a dark grey, such as the urban road environment, yellow would be the optimum choice.
- In rural environments yellow would not provide a great contrast during summer, for instance.
- White will give the greatest brightness contrast (because it has highest reflectivity) but will not give any chromatic contrast.
- In dull overcast conditions or rain and fog, a white car would provide a poor colour contrast.
- Another variation of this colour contrast concept is to create the contrast on the vehicle itself, such as the black livery on RAC's yellow Road Service vans.
- The use of 'daytime running lights' significantly increases the distance from which a car, irrespective of colour, can be seen.
- The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) found the distance an oncoming vehicle could be detected from increased from approximately 630 m to over 1,430 m, if lights were used.
- Since 1997, RAC has promoted daytime running lights with increasing success.
- RAC recognises that lights, not colour, is a more effective means of increasing the visibility of cars and thereby reducing the number of crashes occurring on our roads.