How Crumple Zones Work
Automobiles are dangerous to drive, and accidents are more common than most people realize. That's why experts always work to make vehicles safer and minimize harm to passengers during an accident. One of the new technologies that are protecting drivers is crumple zones. These specialized sections in modern vehicles are designed to crumple up and take more damage than other parts of the vehicle. It seems strange to think that experts designed areas of their vehicles to crush and crumple, but there is a very good reason to do so; it makes the vehicles safer to drive.
What is a Crumple Zone
The crumple zone definition is a special part of a vehicle meant to bend, deform, and crumple. These areas of the vehicle are softer than the rigid frame it's built on. They are crafted with the intention of absorbing crash energy into them and also rerouting powerful forces away from passengers before they can be hurt significantly. Crumple zones give serious crash forces an easy path to flow through, and by doing that, they take some of the force away from the frame and other durable steel components that will make an accident uncomfortable and dangerous.
Crumple Zones in Cars Reduce Deceleration
One of the most dangerous aspects of a car crash is the deceleration that's involved. An accident causes you to slow down too fast. You stop so fast you often get whiplash, you may smack into the dashboard, the doors, or other areas of your vehicle, and you could be seriously injured.
The best answer to this problem is to help your vehicle slow down more slowly than it otherwise would. This is what crumple zones in cars do. These specialized zones still slow your vehicle down on impact, but they don't apply as much stopping force to your vehicle as a rigid and hard section would. Instead, they are more of an airbag for the vehicle that absorbs energy and slows you a bit more gradually. They don't take all the power out of an impact, but crumple zones can help to reduce the severity of impacts.
Crumple Zones Must Be Blended with Rigid Protection
Crumple zones work well for reducing the power of a crash, but the whole vehicle cannot be a crumple zone, or all the passengers would be seriously injured. That's why vehicles blend together with crumple zones and rigid protections. There are protective frames behind the crumple zones that protect passengers and other delicate areas of the vehicle.
For instance, the battery and fuel tank in your vehicle must be protected against a serious impact as well. If either of these two locations gets hit hard, they could be damaged and lead to a fire or other dangerous issues. For this reason, they have protective frames guarding them as well. By blending together crumple zones and more rigid protections, you get a hybrid safety system that can control the direction of impact forces during most crashes. Extensive modeling and crash testing are used to make a vehicle that's designed for maximum safety, and that's what you'll get from these crumple zones and the many other safety features added to vehicles today.
Crumple Zones Save Lives
While it might not seem like much, crumple zones have been saving lives for decades. Before crumple zones were invented, most vehicles were incredibly stiff. This means they stopped with an accident almost immediately. All of the kinetic energy from the crash was transferred to the passengers inside the vehicle, which means they got more seriously hurt. This design works fine for low-speed crashes where the harmful energy isn't as great, but for the really serious impacts, not having crumple zones is a dangerous issue that led to many deaths.
Race Cars Even Rely on Special Foam for Enhanced Protection.
Today most race cars are designed with crumple zones, just like passenger vehicles. Many of these cars take things a step further and insert specialized foam material behind the crumple surfaces to slow impacts even more. By taking special measures to reduce the intensity of a crash as much as possible, race car drivers are safer than ever today.
Crumple Zone Panels Require Replacement
The one major downside to using these crumple zones on vehicles today is that these areas of a vehicle must be replaced in severe accidents. If you get into a major collision, it's likely that you'll need at least a few body panels fully replaced. This wasn't always the case, and in older vehicles, you may have only had a minor dent to contend with rather than a crushed body panel. You'll spend more on repairs to have these parts of your vehicle replaced, but you'll be safer during serious accidents, and that's more important.
Consider Crumple Zones and Other Safety Features When Buying Used
If you're thinking of buying a used vehicle, consider what safety features you're getting with your purchase. Some of the oldest vehicles won't come with crumple zones, which means you'll be in more danger when you drive. You might end up with a vehicle that lacks airbags and other safety sensors and systems that come on modern vehicles. Look at the list of features that come with any vehicle you're considering purchasing and avoid a vehicle that will put you in more danger when you drive. You should also look at the car history report for the vehicle so you can see if it's been in a major accident already, so you can avoid that as well.
Crumple zones are an odd advancement that seems worse than more rigid vehicles, but without them, you could be in serious danger while driving if you get into an accident. By understanding your crumple zones, you'll be able to evaluate vehicles for safety when making purchases, and you won't panic as much when your car crumples up when you get into an accident. A car crumple zone is an intelligent advancement that leaves you with a safer vehicle that you can rely on to protect you in serious accidents, and it's just one of the many safety advancements that work to protect you and other drivers today.
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