NFH maintains highest ethical standards and takes its social responsibility with great pride. As a part of this initiative, the Company is committed to enhance the career development of its Bahraini employees and to empower them with greater responsibilities ensuring sustainability and the betterment of the society. The Company is proud to have 94 % Bahrainisation and with on-going training initiatives, scope for professional development it holds a premier position amongst financing companies as an employer of choice for Bahraini nationals.

The role of the Company is not only limited to offering products and services to customers, but also in contributing to the development and prosperity of the Kingdom of Bahrain. The Company primarily focusses on lending for purchase of automobiles. As a part of the safety initiative for vehicle owners detailed are the key features available in cars:

PIONEERING LIFE-SAVING CAR SAFETY INVENTIONS

From the first automobile invented by Carl Benz in 1885 to the flamboyant, gas-guzzling monsters of the fifties and sixties, cars were sold on the basis of style, performance, comfort and luxury, with scant regard for safety. It was not until 1965, with the publication of Ralph Nader’s book Unsafe at Any Speed, and the dramatic increase in car accidents and fatalities on US roads, that car safety began to be taken seriously. Growing public awareness placed pressure on car makers to design and build vehicles that would minimise the dangers to drivers and occupants in the event of a collision, or even avoid accidents altogether.

Seat Belts

The first seat belts took the form of a two-point waist restraint with the buckle placed over the abdomen, which could be dangerous in certain types of accidents. While they were widely used in airplanes and racing cars, campaigns by several American physicians in the mid-1930s to have them fitted in passenger cars proved unsuccessful, although they appeared in some Swedish cars during the 1950s. Swedish automobile engineer Nils Bohlin invented the modern diagonal three-point seat belt for cars in 1958, which effectively secured both the upper and lower body during a crash. However, it was not until the late sixties that the fitting of front seat belts in automobiles became mandatory in Europe and the UK, followed by America in 1970. Today, all cars manufactured globally incorporate front and rear seat belts as standard equipment, with legislation requiring their use by drivers and passengers. It is estimated that Bohlin’s pioneering invention has saved well over one million lives.

Air Bags

The air bag, another important life-saving safety device, can trace its origins to 1953 when American industrial engineer John Hetrick invented his ‘safety cushion assembly for automotive vehicles’. However, this and subsequent early designs were not very practical or reliable. The real breakthrough occurred in 1967 when American mechanical engineer Allen Breed invented a ‘ball-in-tube sensor for crash detection’, which is considered the world’s first electromechanical automotive airbag system. First-generation airbags, which were designed to be powerful enough to restrain people not wearing seat belts, were prone to cause injuries due to their rigidity. In 1991, Breed invented a lower-powered or second-generation airbag that vents air as it inflates, designed ‘to reduce the risk of secondary injuries’. These were mandated by the US government as standard equipment on all passenger vehicles in 1998.

Disc Brakes

The history of disc brakes starts in 1902 with early experiments by British car engineers Frederick and George Lanchester, followed by American engineer Powell Crosley in the 1940s. The modern disc brake first appeared in limited production British sports cars in the early fifties, and in the first volume-production car by a French manufacturer in 1955. They gained popularity in America during the 1960s as cars became faster. Disc brakes provide greater stopping power, better heat dissipation and safer performance in wet conditions than traditional drum brakes.

Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)

The anti-lock braking system (ABS) allows tyres to maintain traction on the road surface while braking, and prevents wheels from locking up and causing uncontrollable skids. This concept was invented by French engineer Gabriel Voison in 1929, and first used by airplanes. First-generation hydraulic ABS systems appeared on a few cars in the UK in the 1960s, but met with limited success. Second-generation electronic ABS systems were launched in the 1970s, which were more effective. The technology was further enhanced with the development of electronic stability control (ESC) in 1995, which helps correct a skid when a car begins to slide. ABS became mandatory for all new cars in Europe in 2004; while ABS with ESC became the regulatory standard for passenger vehicles in the USA in 2013.

Radial Tyres

The first radial tyre design was patented in 1915 by American inventor Arthur Savage; but it was Frenchmen Edouard Michelin and Marius Mignol who jointly invented the modern radial tyre in 1946. This was first used on a volume-production car in 1948. Because of its superiority over the traditional diagonal bias ply tyre, radial technology spread quickly across Europe and Asia in the following two decades. The first US-made automobile to have radial tyres fitted as standard equipment went on sale in 1970. Radial tyres provide longer tread life and better traction at highway speeds; and enhanced steering characteristics and less rolling resistance. They also improve fuel economy and dramatically lower the danger of heat-related blowouts. Today, all automotive tyres manufactured globally are based on a radial design.

Safety Glass

French inventor Edouard Benedictus took out a patent for laminated glass in 1909. However, his invention did not come into mass production until the First World War, when it was used in gas mask goggles. It finally ended up in automobiles in the late 1920s, replacing windshields that had previously been made from ordinary window glass. In 1937, it became mandatory for all new cars in the US. As well as being shatter-resistant, laminated glass stays clearer, and helps block out more sound and ultraviolet rays.

Head Restraints

By limiting the rearward movement of an occupant’s head in a collision, modern car head restraints are designed to prevent or mitigate whiplash, and reduce neck injuries. A patent for an automobile ‘headrest’ was granted to Benjamin Katz in the USA in 1921, and to British inventor Leslie Morrison Keegan in the late 1950s. Optional head restraints began appearing on American automobiles in the following decade, and became mandatory for all new cars sold in the US after January 1969. Initial head restraints were either integrated, fixed or manually adjustable; but since the late 1990s, active (automatically adjusting) head restraints have been developed and introduced by leading car manufacturers worldwide.

Safety Cell / Crumple Zone

Austro-Hungarian designer Béla Barényi invented the safety cell and crumple zone concept in the early 1950s. This comprised an internal rigid steel safety cage surrounding the passengers, with external front and rear collapsible areas designed to absorb and disperse crash impact force. These were first incorporated in a German car in 1959; but were not widely adopted until the advent of mass-produced unibody vehicles (incorporating the frame, floor and chassis in a single structure) in the 1980s.

Crash Testing

Some American car makers started to conduct their own rudimentary barrier crash tests in the 1930s. However, official independent crash testing and ratings for protection were only introduced in the US and Europe during the 1970s. Frontal impact protection testing using data from dummies was followed by frontal offset, side impact and rollover resistance testing in the 1980s and 1990s. Since then, safety protection standards and rating criteria have been steadily upgraded to embrace new car safety systems.  

Latest Technologies

From 2000 onwards, numerous new electronic safety crash avoidance systems have been introduced. They include lane departure warning, blind spot and pedestrian detection, adaptive lighting, parking and rear-view backup sensors, heads-up displays and night vision cameras.

Since the 1960s – despite considerably higher average speeds, denser road networks and a greater number of miles being driven by motorists – road accidents and fatalities have dramatically decreased, thanks to continuous car safety developments. However, there is always room for improvement, with the World Health Organisation noting that ‘there is still an unacceptable high rate of road traffic deaths.’