Sight or security?

Modern cars are safe. Too sure? More and more often, designers find themselves in a bind between security requirements and visibility. A new problem with potentially life-threatening side effects.

Good weather, hardly any traffic, At first glance, there is no other car around. Frank Hamprecht drives off and is suddenly hit by a blow: A small car appears out of nowhere before his eyes. The accident can only be prevented by emergency braking. No carelessness, no heat and no speed too fast – The young man from Hamburg almost became a victim of the security structures of his own car. Because to be able to optimally protect the passengers, Today, bodies with sometimes massive structural components are necessary, that can restrict the view so much, that they are already counterproductive for actively avoiding accidents.

In particular the so-called A-pillars (carrier, which also form the lateral boundary of the windshield) restrict the view – sometimes quite considerably – a. With fatal consequences: Accidents happen, because pedestrians, bicycle- and motorcyclists and even cars cannot be seen by the driver, because they had been covered by these components at the crucial moment.

“The A-pillar,“Explains Rodolfo Schöneburg, Head of Passive Safety and Vehicle Functions at Mercedes, “Has to withstand a wide variety of very considerable loads.” In the event of a roof impact after a rollover, the off-set crash in a head-on collision, or the rear underrun, when a car gets under a truck, should, so the goal of the developer, the passenger compartment does not collapse. In addition, the A-pillars must provide space, to be able to stow windowbags and – last, but not least – US laws require a heavy padding, to reduce head injuries when serving.

Danger recognized. A specially designed research vehicle provides the engineers with important knowledge for constructions, who should help, to counteract the very special new type of accident. What looks like a bizarre cross between a UFO and a Mercedes, is not the work of crazy designers. "In the so-called glass dome car", explains Martin Wünsche, Mercedes ’Chief Ergonomist, “The driver enjoys an optimal all-round view, which is a great advantage at intersections and when turning. However, this is not feasible with a conventional car due to the design. "

It is therefore the aim of the project, find out, what need to look out for drivers, to be able to move safely in traffic. By masking individual areas of the plexiglass dome with opaque adhesive tape, the engineers simulate a wide variety of shapes of A-pillars. Using complex camera technology, which exactly registered, where the driver looks in traffic, determine alternatives for later series models. Löbliche Basic labor, but the fundamental problem, that cars are becoming more unsafe, to accommodate more security in them, the researchers will be able to change little. The more important, that the driver is always aware of his "visual impairment".


Jörg Ahlgrimm, Head of DEKRA accident analysis: “Clashes happen especially in the area of ​​clear intersections, because entire vehicles can be hidden by the restricted view of A-pillars. If one of the vehicles is obscured, it takes longer, those involved in the accident often think they are making a dangerous mistake: The person obliged to wait does not see the other road user, while the right of way assumes, to be seen well. Here are especially bicycles- and motorcyclists affected. " (Graphic below) His advice: When approaching an intersection, one moves in the car forwards and also to the side. This changes your perspective and allows you to see the shaded area behind the roof post.


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