Over the past decades, passive safety systems – like pre-tensioned seatbelts, airbags and energy-absorbing deformation zones – have made a major contribution to road safety by reducing the consequences of accidents. As a result, most European vehicles now score highly in crash tests. However, passive safety technology is reaching a level of maturity, so further room for improvement is limited.
Now, active safety measures – like autonomous emergency braking (AEB) systems and lane departure warning (LDW) – offer huge potential to further improve road safety by avoiding emergency situations altogether, or at least by actively helping the driver to manage them properly.
That does not mean that passive safety measures will disappear from vehicles. On the contrary, they will continue to save many lives in the future. However, the most effective passive technologies have already been introduced and additional passive measures will only deliver incremental improvements at disproportionate cost. Instead, optimal results can be delivered in a cost-effective way by investing in active safety measures.
Moreover, fitting extra passive safety measures to vehicles can also have a negative impact on other key priorities such as the environment. This is because passive safety measures add weight to vehicles, which increases CO2 emissions.