Oh dummy - Unsung hero of safety
Published: Sunday | October 18, 2009
Brian Bonitto, Jamaica Editor — Overseas Publications
He's BEEN behind the steering wheel of every brand of vehicle you can imagine and has crashed them all!
It may sound a little reckless but consider it a labour of love and for safety's sake.
That's the life of the motor world's unsung hero - the crash-test dummy.
In 1949 'Sierra Sam' was the first dummy used in crash tests and was employed to the US Airforce. Today, 60 years on, the dummy has found favour with all motor vehicle manufacturers.
How much of a role does safety play when purchasing a motor vehicle?
"A very important one," said Dawn Green, public relations and marketing executive at Kingston Industrial Garage. She said, from her observations, safety was more of an issue to female customers than their male counterparts.
"Safety more appeals to females than males," said Green. "Women are very concerned about their safety and that of their kids," she told Automotives.
Green, whose Spanish Town Road-based company is the dealer for world-renowned brands such as Jaguar, Subaru, Ford and Land Rover, said female clients tend to have more queries about a vehicle's handling capabilities, its brake system and skid-control mechanism.
The public relations and marketing executive was quick to point out that all the vehicles which her company supplies to the market had superb safety features.
"In poor weather conditions, for example, the Subaru's boxer engine - with its symmetrical four-wheel-drive capability - provides quick reflexes that can help the driver to avoid a collision," Green said.
"The Subaru has a crumple zone in the front of the vehicle which ensures passengers are not crushed in the event of an accident, together with three-point seat-belt system, airbags and side-impact protection," she added.
Meanwhile, at the higher-end of the price spectrum, the tune is no different.
Established safety track record
Olive McNaughton, marketing and sales manager at Euro Star Motors Ltd. - sole distributor of Mercedes-Benz in Jamaica - said the luxury vehicles her company sells have an established safety track record.
"Safety is a main selling point for Mercedes-Benz," she said. "It is one of the safest vehicles around."
McNaughton said one of the most frequently asked questions by the clients has to do with how many airbags each vehicle has. She had high praises for Mercedes-Benz's safety features.
"If you're going over 80 kilometres per hour and should suddenly brake ... your head-rest would automatically re-adjust to prevent whiplash. Also, your seat-belts would tighten and the windows roll up," she said.
"We [Mercedes-Benz] score high in crash-safety tests," she quipped.
McNaughton said with the new Blue Efficiency engine, drivers have more torque and power whereas emissions are more environmentally friendly.
Will manufacturers stop using crash dummies anytime soon?
"If a better technology comes along, perhaps ... but right now they are the best in simulating real-life situations," McNaughton said.
As for the crash-test dummy, his licence has no expiration date in sight.