It may not sound very glamorous, but there were 2,657 people in 2002 who owed their lives to energy-absorbing steering columns. Prior to its first use in 1968, drivers in front-end crashes made impact with stiff steering structures that refused to absorb even the slightest bit of impact energy. Since then, energy-absorbing steering columns have become commonplace, designed to cushion the initial blow to the driver’s chest.
The technology continues to advance. For the 2005 model year, Ford Motor Company offered a new steering column that varies its absorption rate depending on criteria such as seatbelt use, occupant weight, and crash severity. And the all-new 2006 Dodge Charger’s steering system features a setup that allows the steering column to move away from the driver and absorb more of an impact’s energy.