A Car Buyer's A to Z Guide of Vehicle Safety Jargon

Almost every vehicle manufacturer offers a wide range of safety devices and features on their range of vehicles. As the amount of safety technology increases, the number of terms found in vehicle adverts and brochures increases too. It can be difficult to find sources of information which explain what the term means, let alone how it keeps you safe.

RoSPA have compiled a list of acronyms and terms used in vehicle safety in a quick reference table, along with a brief description of what it means and where to find further information and advice in the Vehicle Safety section of this website.

Information about how to use the technology on a car can be found in the vehicle's handbook, which you should always read and follow.

Term Description Further Information
ABS Anti-lock Brake System. Prevents wheels from locking and allows the driver some control over steering under heavy breaking. ABS Fact Sheet
ACC Adaptive Cruise Control. An advanced variant of cruise control. It monitors and maintains the distance from the vehicle in front.  
Active Head Restraint Moves the head restraint towards the occupant in a rear end collision to reduce the chances of whiplash. Safer Head Restraint Designs and Adjusting Your Head Restraint
AFL Adaptive Forward Lighting. Headlights which improve forward visibility by changing the area they illuminate depending on the vehicle's environment and manoeuvre  
Airbag A deployable bag which inflates to help prevent injury to a car occupant. Airbag Fact Sheet
BA or BAS Brake Assist. Helps the driver apply the full force of the brakes in emergency conditions. Brake Assist Fact Sheet
BLIS Blind Spot Information System. Uses a digital camera to monitor the vehicles blind spot and alerts the driver if there is another road user present.  
CRS Child Restraint System. A generic name for all types of child car seats. Child Car Seat Website
Crumple Zone The area of the car outside the passenger safety cage designed to be crushed in an impact. Absorbs energy during a collision to reduce the risk of occupant injury.  
DRL Daytime Running Lights. Lights intended to increase a vehicle's conspicuity during the day time. Not common on cars in the UK.  
DSC Dynamic Stability Control. A name used by some manufacturers to describe a stability control system. Helps to stabilise the vehicle during an emergency manoeuvre, it reduces the chance of skidding by breaking individual wheels and reducing the throttle. ESP Fact Sheet
EBA Emergency Brake Assist. Helps the driver apply the full force of the brakes in emergency conditions. Brake Assist Fact Sheet
EBD Electronic Brake-force Distribution. A system that balances the braking force between the front and back wheels to provide stability under braking.  
ESC Electronic Stability Control. A name used by some manufacturers to describe a stability control system. Helps to stabilise the vehicle during an emergency manoeuvre, it reduces the chance of skidding by braking individual wheels and reducing the throttle. ESP Fact Sheet
ESP Electronic Stability Program. A name used by some manufacturers to describe a stability control system. Helps to stabilise the vehicle during an emergency manoeuvre, it reduces the chance of skidding by braking individual wheels and reducing the throttle. ESP Fact Sheet
ETC Electronic Traction Control. Detects and prevents wheel spinning during a vehicle's acceleration.  
EuroNCAP European New Car Assessment Program. A series of laboratory tests to judge a cars performance in a crash. EuroNCAP Fact Sheet and The EuroNCAP Website
GPS Global Positioning System. A system which can determine a vehicle's location by using a network of satellites.  
HUD Heads Up Display. A method of projecting images and driver information on the windshield.  
ICC Intelligent Cruise Control. An advanced variant of cruise control. It monitors and maintains the distance from the vehicle in front.  
ISOFix The name of the system by which ISOFix child car seats can fit into modern vehicles. Child Car Seat Website
LDWS Lane Departure Warning System. Sensors on a vehicle which alert the driver if it is drifting out of lane.  
Load Limiter Gives out a small amount of slack to the seatbelt during a collision helping reduce the risk of injury by the seatbelt. Seat Belt Technology Fact Sheet
Passenger Safety Cell Describes the rigid structure under the bodywork that surrounds the occupants.  
PDBS Pedestrian Deployable Bonnet System. A bonnet which raises itself to reduce injury if a vehicle hits a pedestrian. Pop-Up Bonnet Fact Sheet
Pre-tensioners Pull the seatbelt tight just before a collision to remove the slack and reduce the risk of occupant ejection. Seat Belt Technology Fact Sheet
Run flat tyre A tyre designed to remain functional for short distances and low speeds without any air pressure. Tyre Safety Fact Sheet
SBR Seat Belt Reminder Systems. An alarm to alert the vehicle occupants that a seat belt is not fastened. Seat Belt Technology Fact Sheet
Side Airbag An airbag designed to protect vehicle occupants in collisions to the side Airbag Fact Sheet
SRP System for Restraint and Protection. A name used by some manufacturers to describe their airbag protection system. Airbag Fact Sheet
SRS Supplementary Restraint System. Another name for the airbags in a vehicle. So called as they are designed to be used in addition to seatbelts rather than to replace them. Airbag Fact Sheet
TPMS Tyre Pressure Monitoring System. Alerts a driver of a significant decrease in tyre pressure in some circumstances. Tyre Safety Fact Sheet
Traction Control Detects and prevents wheel spinning during a vehicle's acceleration.  
TRC Traction Control. Detects and prevents wheel spinning during a vehicle's acceleration.  
VSC or VSCS Vehicle Stability Control Systems. A name used by some manufacturers to describe a stability control system. Helps to stabilise the vehicle during an emergency manoeuvre, it reduces the chance of skidding by breaking individual wheels and reducing the throttle. ESP Fact Sheet
WHIPS A system to move the seatback with the driver in a rear end collision. It helps to reduce the chances of whiplash. Safer Head Restraint Designs and Adjusting Your Head Restraint
WIL Whiplash Injury Lessening. A seatback designed to deform in a controlled manner and so reduce the risk of whiplash. Safer Head Restraint Designs and Adjusting Your Head Restraint

 


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