Car Safety Update

One of the world’s leading authorities on road safety, Anders Lie, visited Melbourne recently to outline Sweden’s goal of a zero road toll. An in-depth interview was published in ‘Drive’, The Age’s motoring section, see the link following for the full article. I found the following comments interesting – actually the whole article is interesting – but the follwoing was of particular interest…

Drive.com.au: “‘I’ve done a study to look at the correlation between the EuroNCAP results and real-life crashes, and it shows a very good correlation so far. That’s something that has to be done now and again to check that. We studied 4000-5000 crashes with EuroNCAP-tested cars,’ Mr Lie says.

Published results showed a 12 percent severe injury reduction per star.

That has meant a rethink on the prevailing wisdom of what constituted a safe family car. A decade ago, Mr Lie says, it was typical to advise a family to buy a three- or four-year-old ex-company car, such as a Saab or Volvo. ‘Today it’s almost better to recommend someone to buy a brand-new but somewhat smaller car, because the safety development has been so rapid — especially in the small cars,’ he says.

Mr Lie argues the lower mass of smaller cars is only a problem in head-on collisions with larger cars, which account for about 15 percent of crashes. The other 85 percent, he says, are not really mass-sensitive.

The safety features Mr Lie rates highly include a full array of airbags (frontal, side and curtain — he drives an aluminium Audi A2 with six airbags), electronic stability systems and Mercedes-Benz’s Pre-Safe system, which pre-emptively activates safety systems when the car detects a crash is imminent.

A study last year Mr Lie conducted with fellow road safety scholar Professor Claes Tingvall into electronic stability programs (ESP) turned up remarkable results.

Cars equipped with ESP were involved in 20 percent fewer crashes overall. In marginal weather conditions, the technology had a greater effect. On wet roads, it reduced the number of crashes by 30 percent, and by 40 percent on ice and snow.

‘They are very high numbers,’ Mr Lie says. ‘It seems to have about the same importance as an airbag — and that is, of course, a very big thing. We are strongly promoting cars with electronic stability programs on Swedish roads. The same type of results have been shown by Merc”

Other safety stuff in the news recently:

Highest scoring vehicle assessed by Australian NCAP: Subaru Liberty 2004 – on

More on ESP/ESC here

Drivers with side-impact airbags that protect the head are 45 percent more likely to survive being “T-boned” than those without, according to a new US study of real-world crashes. Actually, the article linked to is not the one I was reading recently – lost the link, but similar results. Basically side airbags or curtain airbags have been proven to have as big an effect on survivability as fitting front airbags to cars did originally.

A good place to go for further info: http://www.crashtest.com/

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