Modern cars protect drivers and passengers in frontal, rear and offset crashes by using crumple zones to absorb crash energy. This means that the car absorbs the impact of the crash, not the driver or passengers. The cabin of the car should keep its shape in frontal crashes to protect the driver and passenger’s space. The steering column, dashboard, roof pillars, pedals, and floor panels should not be pushed excessively inwards, where they are more likely to injure drivers and passengers. Doors should remain closed during a crash and should be able to be opened afterward to assist in the quick rescue, while strong roof pillars can provide extra protection in rollover crashes.
Increased side door strength, internal padding and better seats can improve protection in side-impact crashes. Most new cars have side intrusion beams or other protection within the door structure or inside door panels.
Increasingly, car manufacturers are installing side airbags that provide protection from severe injury. Head-protecting side airbags, such as curtain airbags, are highly effective in side-impact and rollover crashes. Airbags are designed to supplement the protection provided by seat belts - they are not a substitute.
A properly worn seat belt provides good protection but does not always prevent injuries. Three-point lap/sash seat belts offer superior protection to two-point seat belts and should be installed in all seating positions.