Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Safety features vital for market competitiveness

DESIGN excellence and advanced engineering achievements in automotive developments are nothing without the adequate incorporation of safety features in the vehicles being produced.

Automotive safety has since evolved from the early simple seat belts to intelligent high-technology gadgets that are able to assist drivers in avoiding serious or fatal accidents.

Continuous innovations on safety systems and controls have contributed to significant reduction in fatalities and severe injuries worldwide.

Understanding vehicle safety features is crucial for a driver and his passengers.

More importantly, the buyer’s comprehension of the safety technologies the vehicle offers can be a priority in the marque and model selection when purchasing new vehicles.

Safety features in vehicles fall into two categories, namely “active” and “passive”.

Active safety systems are installed in vehicles to assist the driver to avoid an accident, while passive systems are provided for in the vehicle to protect the driver and passengers in the event of a collision.

Awareness of the safety features and their functions are important to eliminate human error and ensure safe driving practices.

Most of the active safety features are electronically controlled, such as stability control, brake assist and traction control.

The systems are manufacturer-designated, such as BMW for its electronic stability programme, and the anti-lock braking system by most manufacturers.

In addition, adaptive headlights, parking sensors and adaptive cruise control are installed in many latest models.

Recent introductions of active safety innovative technologies and gadgets include forward collision warning, lane departure warning, front pedestrian impact mitigation braking, dynamic brake support and crash imminent braking.

The automatic crash notification is another innovation that notifies emergency respondents in the event of an accident and provides them with the location of the mishap.

Passive safety systems, on the other hand, are only activated in the event of an accident.

Airbags and headrest are features that protect the vehicle users’ body.

A warning light that appears should the driver not wear his seat belt is a passive feature that is familiar to vehicle users.

Physical structure of the vehicle itself can be a passive feature, where the monocoque design is able to protect the occupants from injuries during a collision.

Incorporating safety features in vehicle design and development is a challenging feat.

While customers’ preference may be centered on the sales price, the prescribed safety features and systems in the vehicle are enticing attributes.

Appropriate balancing decision between sales price and cost of manufacture is, therefore, crucial.

As the nation is moving forward towards becoming an energy-efficient vehicle (EEV) producer, the ability by local designers and engineers to design and develop advanced vehicle safety features is desirable. Coupled with the ability to manufacture at a more competitive cost, Malaysian EEVs will stand to compete in the marketplace.

This article commemorates the launching of an automotive safety exhibition from tomorrow to Sunday at Matrade, a collaborative effort between the Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI) and Lafarge Malaysia Bhd.

The exhibition is organised to fulfill MAI’s corporate social responsibility, and is in line with the National Automotive Policy 2014 thrust on “Safety, Security and Environment” aimed at promoting safety within the automotive and logistics sector.

The NST Truck of the Year Award will also be featured at this event.

MAI foresees that the exhibition will be the ideal platform for future promotion on safety and health within the automotive sector.

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