A Long Tradition of Safety
Daimler leads the way when it comes to vehicle safety – whether it be the first safety engineer or the first crash test. The history of occupant safety began at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen in 1939. Béla Barényi, a young engineer who set himself the aim of revolutionizing automotive safety
technology, worked here.
Constructive: Béla Barényi (3rd from left) in conversation with his colleagues following a successful crash test at the Daimler proving ground in Sindelfingen.
The “platform frame for motor vehicles” was his first invention for his new employer. It improved directional stability and road adhesion whilst also improving side impact protection. The new design was patented in February 1941. But Barényi wanted to go further still: His vision was a robust passenger cell “surrounded by crumple zones front and rear.” He achieved his aim in 1952, following several project studies, when his vision was patented. And it remains a fundamental principle on which the entire field of passive safety technology is based to this day. The crumple zone first went into series production in 1959. Béla Barényi was the first ever safety engineer at Daimler – indeed possibly the first anywhere. Dozens of engineers have followed in his footsteps, all of them recognizing, as Barényi did, the need to improve road safety.
Barényi kept working at Daimler until the 1970s. As an example, he formulated the principle of splitting safety into two distinct areas – active safety and passive safety – together with Chief Development Officer Hans Scherenberg in 1966. According to this principle, active safety describes systems and technologies designed to prevent accidents, while passive safety technologies aim to mitigate the consequences of accidents for the occupants. Today electronic assistance systems play a crucial role in improving accident safety. But the distinction between active and passive safety has become increasingly blurred, leading Daimler to formulate its new "integral safety philosophy."