Perhaps one of the most critical areas in terms of safety features in cars is the passenger’s protection in side impacts. It is because of the lack of space or the minimal distance of passengers seat to the point of impact. There is no crumple zone at the side of the vehicle. Because of this, the occupants are at risk in the event of side impact crash.
The side structure of a car has been improved by putting some energy absorbing materials in the doors, pillars, subframe rails, roof and seats. Those side impact materials increases the stiffness of the doors to absorb and distribute the energy from the impact.The doors have internal stiffeners and beams to help resists inner intrusion. To help support the door beams and to transfer loads, most doors use reinforced hinges and latches. As for the body structure, unlike the rear and front that gives any possibility of absorbing energy at this point by means of material deformation, this area must be made steady as possible so that the damage in passenger compartment will be minimal.The side body structure of the car should help reduce inward intrusion into the survival space of the occupant and thus decrease interference with the side airbag’s performance. Some cars have subframe members found far inboard from the car’s side, and minimal strength partially- reinforced rocker sections, therefore there is a structural space in the middle body section where the passengers are located. That space can allow the unnecessary inward intrusion into the occupant and lessen the effectiveness of side airbags and other safety features. A sturdier front seat with lateral stiffeners in the seat base and seat backrest and H-point can also help reduce intrusion in side impact crash.
There are other perspective that car manufacturers and designers want to include in the Side Impact Protection System. They are continuously working on this system to improve the performance and stability and of course the reliability of a car such as side airbags, vehicle’s side body protection for deflection and intrusion, seat belt design (snug fit and pre-tensioners), seat design (wrap-around contours and integrated belts), safety seats specially design for children of all ages, door structures (with injury mitigation features), side-windows (safer laminated glass-plastic-glass), smart sensors and tailored-inflation technology, warning labels and shut-off switches, recommended test procedures to evaluate side airbags, the vehicle rollover tests, and public need for comparative performance information. All of these perspectives must be considered in the side impact protection system to ensure the safety of all occupants iespecially the children.