first responders

Among the best reasons to buy a new car are the safety improvements that have been made across the industry over the past decade. Yet safer cars for drivers and passengers haven't meant an improvement for first responders. On the contrary, the added complexity and new technologies employed in modern vehicles routinely frustrate firefighters attempting to save occupants involved in a crash.

According to USA Today, part of the problem facing rescuers is just knowing what hazards might be lurking beneath the sheetmetal. From high-strength steel that's difficult to cut to airbags hidden in every nook and cranny, rescuers face not just frustration, but real danger. Like high-voltage systems in hybrids and electric cars, some of which can be difficult to tell apart from conventional models, according to the report.

To complicate all of this, firefighters are often left in the dark by automakers, and when they do get to practice on vehicles, often those are older models. But things are changing, as industry groups, including the Society of Automotive Engineers, are working on addressing some of these new challenges. The engineering group is close to recommending a new standardized labeling system for electrified vehicles, according to the report.

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