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The Mercury Cars Guide : August 15th 2009
12— Buckle up for a drive through history Manymillions of people have beensaved from death or serious injury over the past 50yearsbythehumble three-point seatbelt. PaulGovertakesalook at motorsafety’s equivalent to ‘‘sliced bread’’. Airbags look sexier and ESP stability control can prevent a car from crashing in the first place, but the installation of three-point safety belts from 1959 was the move that stopped people being thrown around car cabins any time there was even a minor fender-bender. I www.tilf or d.com.au Tilford Trade Clearance Centre COMMERCIALS GRAB A DRIVE AWAY DEAL TODAY! DRIVEAWAY 94 Toyota Corolla Seca RV 5 Speed, alloys, p/s, a/c 97 Hyundai Excel 5-Door Hatch Manual, 150,000kms, original 97 Holden Barina Hatch 5 door, 5 speed, tidy, p/s, a/c 97 Jeep Cherokee 4x4 s/w T-bar auto, 6cyl engine, ideal tow vehicle 95 Mitsubishi Lancer Coupe 5 speed, low kms, rear spoiler, p/s 97 Peugeot 306 Sedan 159,000kms, 5 speed, fuel miser 03 Courier 4x2 F/Tray 5 speed, 2.6ltr, p/s, a/c 80 Porsche 924 Coupe Manual, neat & tidy, drives well 00 Ford Laser LXi Sedan 5 speed, immaculate, p/s, a/c 00 Toyota Hilux 4x2 F/Tray 5 speed, 2.7ltr engine, p/s 03 BA Falcon Sedan 116,000kms, T-bar auto, neat & tidy 04 Kia Rio Sedan 5 speed, p/s, a/c, 90,000kms 04 Kia Pregio Commercial Van Diesel, 5 speed, very tidy 02 Mitsubishi Lancer Sedan T-bar auto, only 77,000kms, p/s, a/c 01 Hyundai Grandeur Sedan T-bar auto, only 40,000kms, p/s, a/c 01 Honda Accord VTi Sedan 126,000kms, auto, luxury, p/s, a/c 98 Honda CRV Wagon 5 speed manual, economical 4 cyl, p/s, a/c 02 Mitsubishi Verada Ei Sedan 96,000kms, alloys, auto, p/s, a/c 99 Mercedes-Benz Vito Van 2.0iManual, dual side doors, alloys 99 Rodeo 4x4 F/Tray Turbo diesel, 117,000kms, p/s 01 Mercedes A160 Hatch Economical 1.6ltr, T-bar auto, excellent test $3,750 $3,900 $5,000 $5,500 $5,500 $5,750 $7,500 $7,500 $8,500 $8,750 $9,000 $9,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,750 $11,000 $11,000 $11,000 $12,000 $12,000 97 Honda Prelude VTi-R Coupe 109,000kms, 5 speed, immaculate sports car $14,000 01 VW Bora Sedan 109,000kms, auto, p/s, a/c, alloys 05 Ford Courier 4x2 D/Cab 72,000kms, 5 speed, p/s, a/c 03 BA Falcon XR8 Ute 101,000kms, auto, 19” alloys Prices valid until 14/08/2009 Hobart’s true & original Trade Clearance Centre Wholesale & Trade welcome 6273 8533 TONY: 0417 569 323 ROD: 0419 122 991 56b Gormanston Road Moonah Finance Available TAP $15,000 $18,000 $22,000 CHEAP CHEAP CARS & In Australia, seatbelts have done better than anywhere else, perhaps because Victoria led the world with their first compulsory use. And since then the country has been at the front on back-seat use, baby restraints and — most recently — booster seats for toddlers. ‘‘It’s incredibly significant. In all the things we’ve done, nothing has made such a step forward as the seatbelt,’’ says Laurie Sparke, who led the safety team at GM Holden until his retirement and is recognised as one of Australia’s most talented engineers. ‘‘If I can remember my num- bers now, a lap-sash belt allows anoccupant to survive 40 per cent of crashes that otherwise would have been fatal. An airbag adds another 20 per cent.’’ Sparke is so convinced about seatbelts that he can rattle off the basic history without thinking. ‘‘It was 1959. The man who invented them was a Swede, Nils Bohlin,’’ says Sparke. This week was the 50th anniversary of the invention of the seat belt. Bohlin’s invention is even recognised as one of the eight patents to have the greatest significance for humanity during the century from 1885 to 1985. Bohlin did the belt job while working for Volvo, in a move which helped cement the company’s commitment to safety. It’s been at the front or close to the front, sharing a lot of the honours with Mercedes-Benz, ever since. In recent years a lot of compa- nies have been touting their safety credentials, with Renault pushing ESP and Subaru strong on the benefits of all-wheel drive, but when most people think about safety they think of Volvo. T is no exaggeration to say that the seatbelt is the single biggest safety advance in the history of motoring. COME A LONG WAY: Seatbelts were first introduced by Volvo in 1959. What makes the seat belt work, and work so well, is that it is simple and easy to use. It only takes one hand to fasten and developments over the past 50 years have mostly been centred on making it more convenient. ‘‘In reality, the only things that have happened in 50 years have been convenience things to encourage people to wear them,’’ says Sparke. ‘‘The fixed stalk makes the buckle easier to find, the retractable belt makes it easy to wear, adjustable top mounts make it more comfortable. ‘‘It was not until the pretensioner that the performance improved.’’ Changes to seatbelts have been extensive, from the location systems to thewaythey are mounted and even the types of webbing. BMW is one of the coupe companies that now has a retractable arm to bring the belt to the driver and passenger, several companies mount their belts with the buckle on the outside in the rear to give better protection, and Mercedes even mounts the belt to the seat instead of the body structure in its SL. Not surprisingly, the automo- tive seatbelt was transferred from aviation. The first aircraft with a lap safety belt was flown by Adolphe Pegoud, who was one of the first pilots to fly upside down. Many cars had lap belts from the 1920s, but it took Bohlin and Volvo—which, like Benz, makes its patents available free-ofcharge—to get the belt convenient and accepted. Laurie Sparke can still remem- ber his first seatbelt experience. ‘‘My very first car, the first thing I did was go out and buy some seatbelts. Unfortunately, the reason I put them in was so I could drive faster,’’ he says. ‘‘The belts meant I didn’t have to hang onto the steering wheel in my MG TC when I was going around corners.’’ TheAustralianmoveto the belt era came in 1970, with Victoria’s landmark legislation, and traffic fatalities in the first year dropped by 18 per cent. New South Wales was next with compulsory belt wearing the following year.Many other countries have similar legislation, although in some states in theUSbelt wearing runs at less than 5 per cent. The future of the seatbelt looks secure, although moves to boost protection with four or five-point harnesses have always failed because they are difficult to use. Some brands are even working on a seatbelt with a built-in airbag. In Volvo’s case, there is on- going research into a four-point belt that is easy to wear, as well as a motorised belt that tightens the belt and places the driver in the right position in potentially hazardous situations. Fifty years into the life of the seatbelt it also has a safety mandate which runs through the core of the company. It’s Mobility 2020 Vision is to ensure no occupant of any Volvo car will be seriously or fatally injured in a crash by the year 2020. All a matter of physics SEATBELTsafety comes down to physics. Laurie Sparke says its job is to slow the passengers at a similar rate to the car in a collision, instead of them colliding with the inside of the vehicle once it has stopped in a crash. It also stops people being thrown out of a vehicle in a crash. ‘‘Ejection is only a small part,’’ Sparke says. ‘‘It’s all about the rate at which you decelerate. If you have a belt on, when the car comes to a halt you are still travelling at 60km/h and the seat belt slows you down in 800 millimetres. ‘‘If you don’t have a seat belt you travel on until you hit something. The deceleration rate is about 10 times higher. ‘‘That’s why seat belts are elastic. And why you need to replace them after a crash.’’ He also says its the reason to keep the belt snug at all times, particularly if you’re wearing bulky clothing in winter, because you need the maximum stretch from a tight belt. ‘‘It’s all about ensuring the belt has the full 800 millimetres to Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au Saturday, August 15, 2009 Motoring safety milestones 1944: Laminated windscreen 1959: Three-point seat belts in the front 1960:Paddedinstrument panel 1966: Twin-circuit triangular backup braking systemand crumple zones 1967: Seat belts in the rear 1968:Headrestraints in the front 1969: Three-point inertia-reel seat belts in the front 1972: Three-point seat belts in the rear 1973: Energy-absorbing steering column 1974: Energy-absorbing bumpers,andpetrol tank relocated for enhanced safety 1982: Wide-angle door mirrors 1984:ABS,anti-locking brakes 1986: High-mount brake lights 1987: Seat belt pre-tensioner anddriver’s airbag 1991: SIPS, side-impact collision protection 1998: Curtain airbags, dynamic stabilityandtraction control 2000:ISOFIX attachments for child seats, two-stage airbag, anddevelopment of virtual ‘‘pregnant’’ crash-testdummy 2004:BLIS, blind spot warning 2006:Adaptive cruise control, collision warning with brake support,andactive Bi-Xenon headlamps 2007: Driver alert controland lane departure warning 2008:City safety, low-speed collision avoidance bring you to a halt. Otherwise you end up hitting the steering wheel or the dashboard.’’ Copping a belting I LEARNED about seat belts the easy way. Although it did hurt a bit... It was back in the 1980s and we were visiting the safety lab at Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart. The safety guru, Dr Ingo Kalli- na, decided a demonstration was the best way to highlight the impact of the then-new pretensioner seatbelt and driver’s airbag. Mycolleague, Will Hagonof the Sunday Telegraph, became the airbag guinea pig and I felt the force of the pyrotechnic belt. The airbag fired first and I was surprised at the speed and violence of the firing. And the broken blood vessels on Hagon’s chest. The belt firing was also loud and forceful, as every millimetre of slack was removed from the seatbelt in a couple of milliseconds. It ended up as tight as the six-point harnesses used in racecars, in a move intended to position the passenger and get maximum stretch space. It was like being hit across the chest by a piece of 4x2 planking. AndI had a substantial bruise the next day to prove it had worked. Public Vehicle Auction Tuesdays from 12:00 noon FEATURING: PRE-AUCTION SALE: For a full listing of vehicles visit: manheimfowles.com.au 33-7-01/09
August 8th 2009
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