Car Safety and Regulatory Devices

In the Safety & Regulatory Devices section you'll find tools and technology intended to keep drivers and passengers safe, from car seats and airbags to red-light camera technology.

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How Occupant Classification Systems Work

Airbags have saved more than 27,000 lives since 1990, yet they still have detractors because of their danger to children. Occupant Classification Systems detect exactly who -- or what -- is sitting in your passenger seat.

Car Safety Pictures

Our car safety image gallery shows you car safety features, crash testing, and other technology intended to keep drivers and passengers safe. And some features you may not have heard about.

Why is it still necessary to crash test vehicles?

There's always going to be some risk involved with automobile travel. Crash testing helps remove some of that risk. However, given the availability of modern computer modeling, is it still necessary to destroy actual vehicles?

Have crash tests ever used live (or dead) human occupants?

A lot of engineering goes into crash test dummies. But as advanced as crash test dummies are, they can't tell researchers everything that happens in a crash. That's where human crash test dummies come in.

How Crumple Zones Work

Did you know that parts of your car are built with special structures designed to be damaged, crumpled, crushed and broken? These components redistribute the force of an impact before it reaches the vehicle's passengers.

Can a car really be death-proof?

What if your car came with a guarantee that you'd never die while driving or riding in it? It sounds far-fetched, but one company is promising such a car by 2020.

Will your next car wake you up when you fall asleep at the wheel?

Strong coffee? That's the old-fashioned way to stay awake behind the wheel. Future generations of cars will be equipped with high-tech features to rouse sleepy drivers.

What if I never changed the oil in my car?

The oil in a car is a necessity that keeps things lubricated and running smooth. But what happens if you never change it? And how long can you really go?

How Speedometers Work

Speedometers have been around since the early 1900s when cars began to grow in popularity and (literally) outpace the horse-drawn carriage.

How Traffic Tickets Work

Traffic tickets are the bane of some motorists, but they exist to enforce driving laws and to encourage safe driving. Learn about traffic tickets including what's on a ticket what happens during a traffic stop and how to fight a ticket.

Car Seats: Fast Facts

Car seats: Get fast facts on car seat safety and easy-to-read explanations on harnesses the LATCH system and what to look for when buying car seats.

How Self-parking Cars Work

With parking space limited in big cities, squeezing your car into a tiny space is a vital skill. Learn how self-parking cars can remove the difficulty stress and uncertainty of this chore.

SUV Safety

In this article, we'll look at the safety reputations of SUVs, find out what safety features to look for when purchasing an SUV and get some SUV driving tips.

How Child Car Seats Work

Seatbelts save lives -- adult lives. For a seatbelt to do its job it must fit correctly, and on a small child a seatbelt is simply the wrong size. In this article, we'll examine the technology at work and find out how to choose the best child seat.

How Seatbelts Work

Seatbelts save thousands of lives each year. How can a piece of fabric end up being the difference between life and death? What does a seatbelt actually do? Learn how seatbelts react in a crash.

How Red-light Cameras Work

The light turns red. You're alone at the intersection. There's not another car in sight. Do you run it? Read this before you answer.

How Odometers Work

Mechanical odometers have been counting the miles for centuries. Although they are a dying breed, they are incredibly cool inside. Learn how this simple device tracks distance and find out about digital odometers.

How does safety glass work?

Why is it that at the scene of a car accident the broken glass is always in really small pieces yet when a baseball breaks a house window there are large jagged pieces?

How does a laser speed gun work to measure a car's speed?

How does a laser speed gun work to measure a car's speed? How is it different from a radar gun?

How does an air bag work

Air bags have saved thousands of lives since their introduction in the early 1980s. So how do they work?

Why are they replacing all of the traffic lights in my town?

In my town they are replacing all of the traffic lights with these new lights that look like they are made of hundreds of tiny bulbs. Why are they replacing all of the lights?

How does a traffic light detect that a car has pulled up and is waiting for the light to change?

There is something exotic about the traffic lights that "know" you are there -- the instant you pull up, they change! How do they detect your presence?

How do the automobile ignition keys with chips embedded in them work?

A friend of mine just bought a new car and it has a neat security feature. The ignition key has what looks like a microchip embedded in it. The owners manual says that without this chip the engine either will not start or will start and then die immediately. How does this microchip on the key prevent the engine from starting?

How Airbags Work

Statistics show that airbags reduce the risk of dying in a head-on crash by 30 percent. Learn the science behind the airbag, what its problems are and where the research is heading.