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Thursday, February 7, 2013
By Adrian-Liviu Dorofte at Thursday, February 07, 2013
The manufacturer-independent US NCAP rating (US New Car Assessment Program) is similar to its European counterpart Euro NCAP in many regards. However, the US program significantly tightened up many of the requirements in 2010, also including additional tests in the rating. This resulted in a dramatic decrease in the number of five-star results. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class and M-Class are among the few vehicles to have achieved the top result of five stars according to the new criteria which are based on real-life accident scenarios.
Unlike the Euro NCAP, the updated US rating uses a significantly heavier deformable barrier (1368 kg compared with 950 kg) for the side collision in order to comply with the increased average weight of modern American vehicles. Another example: A rigid barrier is constructed for the frontal collision instead of a deformable barrier. The vehicle also hits the barrier with a full overlap (40 percent in Euro NCAP). The test program has also been expanded to include a lateral angled pole impact.
The assessment criteria have also been made significantly more stringent. The probability of serious injury to the head (head injury criterion) and the strain on the throat, chest and femur of the driver and front passenger are evaluated. In order to get five stars, the probability of serious injury must be under five percent.
As well as in the challenging new US NCAP rating, the C-Class and M-Class also achieved five-star results in the Euro NCAP, just like all Mercedes-Benz passenger cars have for many years. The American Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a private organisation led by various commercial vehicle insurance companies, also declared both Mercedes-Benz model series to be "Top Safety Picks" thanks to their outstanding test results.
Mercedes-Benz believes these national and international safety ratings to be very sensible. However, the safety experts for the premium brand with the three-pointed star will not settle for merely achieving rating targets; instead they work constantly and intensively on achieving a level of safety that exceeds the standards required by all the legislation worldwide. Actual accident scenarios are therefore an important benchmark for their work. This is why they have been investigating thousands of specific accidents for several years. On this incorruptible basis, Mercedes-Benz has developed a safety concept which not only aims to prevent accidents but also minimize the consequences of them. The experts call the result of their work "Real Life Safety".
Based on this comprehensive safety philosophy, Mercedes-Benz has developed or initiated several modern safety systems that effectively support drivers. One example is the occupant protection system PRE-SAFE®, launched ten years ago. It can activate safety measures for the passengers as a precaution, even before an impending crash. The aim is to prepare the occupants and the vehicle for an imminent collision, by, for example, ensuring that the seat belts and airbags can implement their full protective effect during an impact. PRE-SAFE® is now available in 14 model series right across the Mercedes-Benz model range.
As another indicator of its power of innovation when it comes to occupant protection, Mercedes is further expanding its protection for rear seat passengers with the active belt buckle and the beltbag. An electric motor automatically moves the belt buckle up and down as part of the active belt buckle. This allows belt slack in the pelvis and thorax regions to be reduced and passengers are better secured both laterally and longitudinally. The beltbag is an inflatable belt strap which can reduce the risk of injury to rear-seat passengers in the event of a frontal collision by reducing the forces exerted on the rib cage.
The "Real Life Safety" holistic approach pursued by accident researchers at Mercedes-Benz also increasingly leads to the fusion of comfort and safety, thanks to the implementation of intelligent assistant systems which Mercedes-Benz groups together under the name "Intelligent Drive". This includes systems which could, for the first time, prevent accidents with crossing vehicles or pedestrians, as well as an active lane keeping assist system which could also prevent accidents with oncoming traffic. Anti-dazzle permanent main-beam headlamps are also in development.
Assistance systems like these are not yet generally required by vehicle safety rating systems but various institutions are already starting to request them.
Mercedes-Benz is constantly increasing the performance of these assistance systems. The aim is all-round protection, not only for the occupants of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, but also for all other road users.
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