How advanced car safety technology really works, in the words of a crash survivor

Ever wondered what it is like to experience advanced safety systems in a crash? This Ford Ranger owner has given a real-life account how a split-second intervention by technology possibly saved a life.

A Ford Ranger owner in Sydney has provided a glimpse into how advanced safety systems possibly saved the lives of the occupants in both cars in a horrific ‘T-bone’ crash earlier this month.

Nursing a broken wrist and a dislocated shoulder, Ford Ranger owner Ahmed Zuberi says his injuries – and the condition of the other driver – could have been much worse if it were not for the intervention of advanced safety technology.

While crash-avoidance systems – which are designed to reduce the impact of a crash, or prevent a collision altogether – have been available on new cars for more than a decade, few people have shared their experience of how the technology works.

In early January, Mr Zuberi was driving home in his new Ford Ranger with his wife and a friend, when the driver of a Mazda 6 sedan suddenly turned in front of him against the flow of traffic.

“It all happened so fast,” Mr Zuberi told Drive. “The other car turned in front of me and immediately the (autonomous emergency braking) slammed on the brakes.

“In a split-second, the warning light in the dash flashed, the beep sounded and the brakes came on with full force. The car reacted quicker than a human could have reacted in that scenario.

“Our cars collided but the speed of my vehicle was reduced by the time we made contact.”

Mr Zuberi estimates the emergency braking system slowed the car from about 60km/h to about 40km/h in a blink.

“If (autonomous emergency braking) had not activated, the crash would have been at a higher speed and I’m not sure the driver of the other car would have survived, and we might have had more injuries. I am just thankful everyone was able to walk away.”

Mr Zuberi said his wife in the front passenger seat and his friend in the back seat were uninjured, though he had sustained some injuries.

“I didn’t have the strength (in my hand) to select park after the crash, so someone helped me do that. I knew my left hand and right shoulder were very sore, but I also knew that I was very lucky. This could have been so much worse if the impact speed was higher.”

While the smoke was still settling from the explosive material inside the two front airbags (the other seven airbags did not need to be deployed), the Ford Ranger automatically started to dial emergency services on 000.

Ford’s automatic emergency dialling assistance – triggered when an airbag is deployed in a crash, when a phone has been paired to a vehicle either via Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – has been available on selected models in Australia since 2013.

The automatic emergency dialling technology became more widely available on Ford cars in 2015, when it was introduced on the Ford Ranger ute and Ford Everest SUV – and has been standard on all new Ford cars sold in Australia since 2020.

Ford says it has so far sold more than half a million vehicles in Australia with 000 emergency assistance technology, but it does not know how many times the technology has been activated. 

“We do not have data relating to how many times the feature has been deployed, as our systems do not collect that information,” a Ford Australia spokesman told Drive.

However, they noted: “The Emergency Assist feature is one that Ford Australia is very proud of, but also one we hope none of our customers ever have to experience.”

After airbags have been deployed, the emergency assistance technology allows 10 seconds for a vehicle occupant to cancel the automatic call. If there is no response, the call goes through to 000.

The technology is designed to connect drivers to first responders more quickly, and also alert emergency services to a vehicle’s location (via satellite co-ordinates) in case the driver or vehicle occupants are incapacitated.

“I heard the phone ringing but I didn’t know what it was at first,” said Mr Zuberi. “I was still in shock and going through what just happened. But the car called 000 automatically and they were able to respond quickly.”

The driver of the other car was taken to hospital as a precaution but was released soon after arrival, however Mr Zuberi required medical attention.

“I have no doubt that without that technology this would have been a much more serious crash.”

Mr Zuberi was so impressed he shared his real-life experience on social media, which is where Drive spotted his experience and reached out to him for comment.

“Guys, trust me, you have a solid and safe car. Saved my life. All airbags worked. Collision prevention worked. Auto emergency dial worked,” he told the Next Gen Ranger Owners Australia group on Facebook.

He is now waiting for a replacement for his written-off Ford Ranger XLS 4×4. “Obviously you don’t want anyone to go through this experience but honestly this could have been a much worse outcome for the driver of the other car, without this technology.”

Joshua Dowling has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years, spending most of that time working for The Sydney Morning Herald (as motoring editor and one of the early members of the Drive team) and News Corp Australia. He joined CarAdvice / Drive in 2018, and has been a World Car of the Year judge for more than 10 years.

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