Three of Fords Vehicles Score High in Crash Tests

By: Evander Klum

Ford Motors has been trying hard for the past few years to improve the quality, safety, and design of its vehicles. And just recently its 2007 Acura MDX SUV together with the 2008 Ford Taurus, and the Mercury Sable were able to obtain the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety award. This simply shows that all the efforts of Ford were not in vain since it bears positive results.

Vehicles that are given such designation are those that possess superior overall crash protection among the vehicles in their class----that is according to an Institute press release. How to qualify? For a vehicle to qualify for Top Safety Pick award, they must be able to earn the highest rating of good in all three (front, side, and rear) Institute tests.

Another qualification is for vehicles to be equipped with electronic stability control or ESC, which is considered a standard feature on the MDX and offered as an option for Taurus and Sable beginning with the 2008 models.

Originally only 13 vehicles comprising of minivans, cars, and SUVs qualified for the 2007 awards. But since automakers are introducing new models or improve the safety of their existing ones, the Institute decided to add winners throughout the year. The addition of the MDX, Taurus, and Sable, consumers are now given more options since there are 18 cars, SUVs, and minivans that offer top-rated crash protection and ESC.

How are vehicles chosen?
The Institute conducts frontal crashworthiness evaluations which are based on the results of 40 mph frontal offset crash tests. The overall evaluation of each vehicle is based on the measurements of intrusion into the occupant compartment. A Hybrid III dummy is used to measure the level of injury in the driver seat. The whole procedure is filmed to assess how well the restraint system controlled the movement of the dummy during the test.

For the side evaluation, vehicles on test are struck by a barrier moving at 31 mph. this barrier will represent the front end of a pickup or SUV. Two instrumented SID-IIs dummies are used for this particular test to assess the head protection countermeasures as well as the vehicle's structural performance during the impact.

The injuries obtained by the two dummies, one placed on the driver seat and the other in the back seat behind the driver are used to determine the possible injury that a driver and/or passenger will obtain in real car crash accident. The movements and impacts on the dummies' heads during the tests are also evaluated. The structural performance is based on measurements indicating the amount of B-pillar intrusion into the occupant compartment.

The rear crash protection is rated in accordance to a two-step procedure. The starting points for the ratings are based on the head restraint geometry which involves the height of a restraint and its horizontal distance behind the back of the head of an average-size man. To find out whether seat/head restraints have acceptable or good geometry a dummy is used to measure the forces on the neck. This test mimics a collision in which a stationary vehicle is struck in the rear at 20 mph. The seats that are found out not to have good or acceptable geometry are given poor overall rating since they cannot fully protect passengers.

The test doesn't include checking the vehicle's interior whether it possess car accessories such as and others. Its main concern is the safety features and the crashworthiness of the vehicle.

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