Mercedes and safety

Few car makers have dedicated as much time and money over the year to safety as Mercedes.
Over 30 years ago Mercedes were working with real accident data rather than relying solely on accident research units and testing. From 1969 Mercedes were making a study or every accident involving one of their cases where a passenger had been injured.

One result of this approach was that it became apparent that data only from incidents in which passengers were wearing seat belts should be considered. The increasing use of seat belts across Europe (and legislation to enforce this) made this decision was inevitable.

One of the first discoveries was that the efficacy of passenger restraints is relative where the rear passengers are not strapped in any thrown forward. Rapid movement forward from rear passengers greatly increased injuries to front passengers and drivers.

Another valuable statistic was that 50% of head on collisions happen asymmetrically on the driver’s side, another 25% asymmetrically on the passenger’s side, and only the remaining 25% cover the whole of the front of the vehicle. Due to these results Mercedes began tests not just front on to the vehicle but also covering 40% of the front of the vehicle on the driver’s side. This measured the seriousness of collisions particularly with regard to steering column and pedal construction and ‘survival pace’.

From this research the brake pedal is housed in a cup plate which under serious impact makes the pedal move forward rather than towards the driver. Foam in the foot area also reduces shock.

The housing of the air-conditioner fan cannot break into the passenger shell and cell and the instrument panel is padded at knee level and shin level to further reduce injury.

Measurement of chest injuries to front passengers and drivers led to changes to the dynamics and positioning of safety belts, the addition of the seat belt-tensioner and reduced penetration of the steering column all reduced the potential risks.

Serious abdominal injuries can have quite different causes. The most common is where the rear passenger is not using a belt and is thrown into the driver, the other is incorrect wearing of seat-belts. If a body is not correctly restrained the spinal column is prone to more torsion, the body slipping under the seat, or ‘submarine effect’ is a major problem. Mercedes introduced energy absorbing wedges in the seats to help reduce torsion of the pelvis during accidents.

Head injuries received by front passenger or driver in side on collision when against rigid objects are nearly always fatal. If the head hits the roof frame suitable padding can greatly reduce risk. The introduction of a softer wheel crown, and driver’s air bag also reduce fatalities and risk.

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