Safety December 9, 2021

Steering Columns: Adding a Layer of Protection for Holiday Travelers

The holiday season is here, and for many families, that means travel plans to visit loved ones are already in motion.

As we continue to return to a more “normal” way of life, we can expect more travelers to hit the road to spend time with their loved ones this holiday season. According to The Vacationer’s 2021 Holiday Travel Survey, 122 million American adults plan to travel this holiday season, and of those traveling, 60% will travel by car.

With more drivers on the road during the holiday season, the unfortunate reality is that the risk of a crash can increase as well – especially in snowy or icy conditions.

At Nexteer, we take great pride in developing motion control technologies that increase vehicle safety to protect drivers and occupants year-round.

Steering Column Technologies: Helping Keep Travelers Safe All Year Long

One of Nexteer’s technologies that enables safety for the driver is the steering column. The steering column connects the steering wheel to the steering mechanism – enabling it to control lateral motion by transferring the driver’s input torque from the steering wheel.

Our energy absorbing steering columns are designed in collaboration with the OEM to optimize vehicle safety performance to help protect the driver in the event of a crash.

Positive lock steering column angle and reach comfort adjustment systems allow infinite adjustability and hold the column in a set adjustment position during a crash stroke – maximizing the energy absorbing displacement of the steering column, steering wheel and driver’s side airbag. We conduct extensive column assembly, sub-assembly and component crashworthiness analysis and testing before OEM sled or barrier evaluation. In addition, our energy absorbers are readily tunable during all phases of vehicle development, and frictionless energy absorbers are available to reduce variation.

Another of Nexteer’s key technologies is our Adaptive Energy Absorbing Steering Column, which improves driver protection by using a pyrotechnic actuator to optimize the energy absorbed during a collision. Used in cars, SUVs and trucks, this technology deploys a life-saving sequence tailored to crash severity, vehicle speed, the driver’s seat belt usage, seat position and/or physical size.

All of these vital crash safety technologies help vehicle manufacturers meet U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard regulations. Our steering column’s potential to minimize driver injury can also improve a vehicle’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) rating for vehicles with four stars or less.

In addition to advanced safety, our steering column technologies also offer convenience features such as manual and power adjustability, theft deterrence, sensors and ergonomically designed controls.

We have has supplied more than 500 million columns to vehicle manufacturers around the world – protecting millions of loved ones with our safety-critical technologies including those traveling during the holidays.

Looking ahead, we continue to relentlessly innovate new levels of advanced safety and performance for today’s world and the future of mobility – including innovative column technologies that support megatrends such as Electrification, Autonomy, and Software.

Rick Nash
Rick Nash is global executive director for Nexteer’s Steering Columns & Intermediate Shafts (CIS) and Hydraulic Power Steering (HPS) product lines.