Active Safety System Vs Passive Safety System – What is the difference?

Active Safety

What is Active Safety System in the car?

Active Safety includes set of safety features which reduce the chances of an accident or collision in the first place. Some manufacturers also call it as the ‘Primary Safety System’. Manufacturers employ the active safety systems mainly to avoid the accident. These systems activate before the accident takes place so that they could possibly avoid the accident.

The engineers/vehicle designers build a car with a high level of active safety through superior design. This includes characteristics such as road holding, visibility, comfort, handling, and ergonomics.

Therefore, the safety system such as the Anti-lock Braking System or ABS belongs to the active safety. However, the airbags, seatbelts, and others safety features come into play during an accident. Hence, they are called the passive safety systems.

Active systems respond to an abnormal event such as a safety problem. These systems can be activated manually by the driver or automatically by a computer-driven system (by an ECU). Or sometimes, they are part of the mechanical design itself.

Furthermore, such technologies could help avoid collisions and mitigation. Hence, they will play a key role in automobiles in future. Vehicle component manufacturers such as Bosch, Delphi and ZF are some of the leading companies which supply such safety systems.

Here are some examples of active safety in a car–

  1. Positioning of driver’s seat to allow better visibility
  2. Low noise level in interior
  3. Chassis balance and handling
  4. Reduced unsprung weight
  5. Better tyre grip
  6. Legible instrumentation and warning symbols
  7. Head up displays
  8. Collision warning/avoidance
  9. Anti-lock braking system
  10. Brake Assist
  11. Early warning of severe braking ahead
  12. Electronic Stability Control (ESP)
  13. Traction control
  14. Chassis assist
  15. Adaptive or autonomous cruise control system
  16. Intelligent speed adaptation

What is Passive Safety System in the car?

In contrast, the passive safety systems are those systems which react to the abnormal event. It means that these systems activate during or after the accident takes place. Thus, the passive safety systems help to reduce or decrease the effect of the abnormal event like an accident.

The following safety features are the part of the passive safety system–

1.Passenger safety cell – Many manufacturers make the passenger cells safer by adopting new technologies. For e.g., Suzuki uses the term ‘TECT’ which stands for ‘Total Effective Control Technology’ in making its Vitara Brezza body structure. Hyundai uses the term ‘Hive’ which denotes the strong body, stability, and sturdiness of Hyundai Creta. Mazda uses the term ‘SKYACTIV’ for its body which boasts lightness and rigidity.

Mazda SKYACTIV body (Image Courtesy: Mazda)
Mazda SKYACTIV body (Image Courtesy: Mazda)

2.Crumple zones –Most car manufacturers include crumple zones which are effective in reducing the impact of the collision while designing their body structure.

3.Load space barrier/Trunk.

4.Correct positioning of fuel tanks – The fuel tanks positioned correctly reduce the chance of getting damaged during the rear-end collisions.

5.Laminated glass


7.Fuel pump kill switch



10.Electronic Pedestrian Protection system (EPP)

For more information on US safety regulations, please click here.

Read on: How collision prevention assist work in the car? >>

Home » Technical Anatomy » Active Safety System Vs Passive Safety System – What is the difference?
CarBikeTech Team Avatar
CarBikeTech is a technical blog. CarBikeTech Team members have experience of over 20 years in the automobile field. CarBikeTech Team regularly publishes specific technical articles on automotive technology.