All About Smart Car Safety: Can the Smart ED Save Your Life?

All About Smart Car Safety: Can the Smart ED Save Your Life?

Posted 08.07.2012 in Articles by Neil-Denny

It sure is cute. It sure is cozy. And with the release of the new Smart Electric Drive, it sure is eco-friendly. These are all great attributes for any vehicle, but due to its small stature, safety is an area of concern for many would-be drivers unfamiliar with the new Smart Car Electric Drive. An examination of the safety features built into the new Smart ED, as well as a review of how those features are evaluated by the IIHS, will shed light on the age-old question that arises for any new car that hits the market: Is it safe to drive?

The hallmark of the Smart ED's safety system is the Patented Tridion Safety Cell. Inspired by racecar roll cages, the Tridion Safety Cell is designed to distribute crash energy evenly to reduce injury. The Crash Management System works intuitively to optimize safety in the event of a collision, comprised of seat belt tensioners, collapsible steering column, automatic engine shut-off, door unlock, and hazard lights. The Full Size Airbag System has eight airbags in all: front-impact airbags, overhead airbags, side impact airbags, and knee airbags. Advanced handling features work to prevent an accident from even occurring in the first place, including Anti-lock Braking System and the Electronic Stability Program. Electronic Stability holds your car steady when your vehicle is in danger of swerving, and throttles the engine and brakes to keep you in full control.

How effective is the safety system? According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Smart Car is as safe as they come. The Smart Car earned a “GOOD” overall evaluation from the IIHS, the highest rating achievable, in Frontal and Side Impact crash tests. A review of the IIHS Frontal Ratings Criteria can give you a better idea of what a “GOOD” evaluation actually entails. The frontal rating is assessed in three categories: Structural Performance, Injury Measures, and Dummy Movement. 

Structural Performance evaluates the integrity of the vehicle's safety cage and front-end crush zone. Precrash and postcrash measurements are taken in key areas throughout the cabin, including the footrest; left, right, and center toepans; brake pedal; left and right instrument panel; and door. The intrusion measurements are then compared to IIHS safety standards to receive either a GOOD, ACCEPTABLE, MARGINAL, or POOR rating in each area.

Injury Measures are taken by examining Crash Dummies after impact. 28 different measures are taken to assess the risk of injury, grouped into four main body regions: the head and neck, chest, left leg and foot, and right leg and foot. The lowest rating of any injury parameter will represent the overall rating for the entire body region. If for example Tibia-Femur Displacement receives a GOOD score, but Femur Axial Force gets only a MARGINAL rating, the evaluation for that entire leg region will be MARGINAL. The Smart Car received a GOOD rating across the board. 

The final phase of evaluation is Dummy Movement. Grease is painted over the Crash Dummy to see what parts of the vehicle came into contact with the driver and passengers during impact. Video footage is also reviewed to examine the effectiveness of the restraint system. The dummy's head did make contact with the steering wheel during impact, but the seat belt tensioners and airbags helped to minimize significant injury.

Thanks to the patented Tridion Safety Cell and an advanced airbag and restraining system, the Smart Car exceeded expectations, and received the highest ratings possible for Frontal Impact, Side Impact, and Roof Strength. Although increased whiplash protection is desired in the Smart Car, which was the only reason Smart couldn't be considered a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS, top ratings in frontal and side impact is an impressive feat for a car so small. IIHS President Adrian Lund summed it up in a statement concerning the Smart Car's safety, “Among the smallest cars, the engineers at Smart did their homework and designed a high level of safety into a very small package.” 



Image (CC) Automotive Rhythms

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