Press Kit: Mercedes-Benz: Innovation as a tradition
Nov 20, 2007
Holistic accident research (since 1969)
In the Germany of the 1960s accident research was increasingly seen as a matter of national importance. Between 1960 and 1969 there were more than 157,000 fatalities on West German roads. One year later the figures reached the sad record of 19,193 killed and 531,795 injured.
Research into the reality of day-to-day road accidents was therefore an indispensable tool for Mercedes-Benz safety development. In May 1969, officially approved by and with the support of police and the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg, engineers first began to systematically investigate and document serious traffic accidents involving Mercedes-Benz cars on the spot to establish the objective effects on the occupants.
With its systematic accident analyses Daimler-Benz was already carrying out pioneering work in the field of accident research in the early 1970s. This not only included information about the nature of accidents and the sequence of events, but also about the deformation behavior of the bodywork and the causes of injuries. These findings were incorporated in the development of new models. Accidents were reconstructed using computer-based simulation programs with three-dimensional representation of the accident. In addition to vehicle/vehicle collisions, accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists have also been examined since 1979.
The findings obtained by Mercedes-Benz accident researchers are continuously used as a basis for the development of realistic test procedures and standards. These include the offset crash test first carried out in 1973. It reflects the established fact that in some three quarters of all frontal collisions the vehicles collide with only a one-sided overlap. For many years the 55 km/h frontal crash test with a 40-percent overlap against a rigid barrier was one of the toughest tests for the bodywork structure of any car – not only of Mercedes-Benz models. Nowadays the conditions are much more severe: even in a 64 km/h frontal crash test with a 40-percent overlap against a deformable barrier the car occupants must not suffer any significant injuries.
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