From your windshield to your bumpers, plastics provide safety benefits in ways you may not see
In the face of an annual average of more than 6 million auto crashes on U.S. roads, it’s good to know that many plastic vehicle components – both seen and unseen – contribute greatly to reducing the potential for injury.
Some of these plastic parts are obvious: seatbelts made of industrial grade polyester and nylon air bags have saved countless lives. But there are many hidden components made fully or in part from plastic-based materials that are not so readily apparent.
•For example, the use of plastic foam inside key structures such as door panels and front and back bumpers can help absorb the impact of a collision.
•Filling roof supports with plastic foam can help strengthen the roof structure in the event of a rollover.
•Reducing the weight of a vehicle above its center of gravity, which can be accomplished through the use of plastic components, can increase a vehicle’s rollover resistance.
•Molded plastic fuel tanks have a key safety feature: since it can be manufactured as a single part without welded seams, they are less likely to split along them in a collision.
Virtually all headlamp lenses have been updated with transparent, shatter-resistant polycarbonate.
•Drivers look straight past (actually through) one of the most prominent safety features in cars and trucks: the plastic laminated glass windshield, which is a layer of plastic sealed between two layers of glass that is less likely to shatter upon impact. If the glass does break, the broken pieces tend to remain bound to the tear-resistant plastic inner layer, helping to prevent injury.
With the help of plastics, these and many other components in your vehicle work to help you and your loved ones arrive safely.