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Today’s Cars are Safer by a Mile

hondacivic.jpgA lot of nostalgia surrounds the automobiles of yesteryear. The rolling iron that Detroit manufactured during its mid-20th century glory days seem, at a glance, far more powerful, durable and, well, macho, than the CAD-designed, chip-regulated, plastic-coated eco-mobiles of today.

But looks can be deceiving. Most of those gas-guzzling, tail-finned land yachts and muscle cars of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s were literal death traps compared to today’s vehicles, as evidenced by the dramatic drop in highway fatalities over the past half century (as a function of miles driven). In other words, today’s cars are not only far more efficient, you’re far less likely to die driving one.

Here are some of the safety innovations that have made today’s cars and trucks far safer to drive than those of Detroit’s “Golden Years”:

* Seat Belts. When introduced during the early 1960s, seat belts were considered by many to be irritating, restricting and even potentially dangerous. (“What if I’m trapped inside a burning car?”) But they worked. The subsequent addition of the shoulder harness has made the seatbelt even more effective in saving lives and preventing injuries. Today, only idiots who enjoy crashing headfirst through windshield glass refuse to use them. .

* Anti-lock Brakes. They used to be an expensive option. Now ABS brakes are standard on most cars, and they work wonders preventing out-of-control skids.

* Puncture-Resistant Tires. In the mid-20th century, tire blow-outs were common, especially at high speeds. Today’s tires are far less likely to deflate – or explode – providing drivers with a much higher degree of control.

* Airbags. Having a giant balloon explode into your face may be a bit uncomfortable, but that’s nothing compared to being hurled head-first into a steering wheel at 50 mph. Now, many cars are equipped with passenger-side, side-window and even head-level airbags, which have saved Heaven knows how many lives and avoided an even larger number of reconstructive surgeries.

* Crushable Steering Columns. Ever get impaled on a steering column? Time was, this was not an uncommon occurrence. And it was not pleasant. Fortunately, thanks to the wonders of modern engineering, steering column-ectomies are now a thing of the past.

* Crumple Zones. If today’s vehicles appear to crumple easier than yesterday’s, there’s a reason. A body and engine compartment that’s designed to implode upon impact can more successfully absorb kinetic energy than say, your skeleton. Better the car should take the brunt of the impact than your spine.

* Ergonomically designed interiors. Today’s cockpits are scientifically designed to place instruments and controls in positions that are easy to see and access. By contrast, style was often the priority in mid-century auto design, resulting in cars that looked great but whose operation could not only distract drivers, but which contained aesthetic features that, in an accident, could actually prove deadly. (Would you believe that Cadillac once featured a steering wheel with a pyramid-like spike in its center? Ouch.)

Enjoy a Career in Automotive Technology

Today’s cars and trucks are wonders of modern engineering. If you enjoy working under the hood, consider automotive technology training from WyoTech, one of America’s leading institutions preparing students for work in the automotive, motorcycle, collision/refinishing and marine industries. For information on training programs, as well as financial aid opportunities for those who qualify, contact WyoTech today!

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