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NHTSA ANNOUNCES FIRST PASSENGER CAR TO GET TOP SAFETY RATING IN SIDE CRASH TEST

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Volvo S80

NHTSA ANNOUNCES FIRST PASSENGER CAR TO GET TOP SAFETY RATING IN SIDE CRASH TEST

NHTSA
July 23, 1999

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NHTSA 33-99
Friday, July 23, 1999
Contact: NHTSA, Tim Hurd, (202) 366-9550

The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today released the side crash test results for the first passenger car to achieve the highest possible test ratings in a side impact crash test.

Side-impact crash test results are for the Volvo S80 four-door. The 1999 Volvo S80 received a side star-rating of five stars in the front seat and five stars in the rear seat. The S80 is equipped with a standard side air bag for the driver and with a standard inflatable curtain that is designed to deploy to cushion the head of the driver and the head of the rear seat passenger in a severe side crash.

"This result shows how innovative design can meet the challenge of providing a high level of side impact protection in passenger cars," said Dr. Ricardo Martinez, NHTSA administrator.

The safety systems of the 1999 Volvo S80 will remain unchanged in model year 2000. These new test results, along with results for vehicles tested previously that remain valid, provide current side impact safety information on a total of 91 vehicles.

The federal safety agency said the side crash used to test these passenger cars simulates a typical intersection collision between two vehicles. In the tests, forces are measured on two crash dummies when a moving, deformable barrier is impacted at an angle into the side of a car at 38.5 mph.

Crash-test dummies--designed specifically to measure human-like responses in the side direction--are placed in the driver position and in the rear seat position behind the driver. Instruments measure the force of impact to the dummy's chest and pelvis. The chest data, which shows the chance of life-threatening injury, is signified in a single rating reflected by the number of stars. Pelvic injury also is measured. If a high likelihood of pelvic injury occurs in the lateral test, the consumer is also informed of this possible injury by a pound symbol.

The agency also provides frontal impact safety information on a total of 102 vehicles. The combination of frontal and side crash tests in the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) gives consumers relative safety information on the two most common injury-causing crash events--frontal and side impacts.

NHTSA advised consumers, in reviewing the front and lateral star ratings, to keep in mind that in real world crashes, vehicles are twice as likely to be involved in severe frontal crashes as in severe side crashes. Also, NHTSA emphasized that the crash test results for frontal impact are meaningful only for comparing relative injury risk in frontal collisions between vehicles of similar weight, within an approximate weight range of 500 pounds. Test results show the relative crash protection provided to occupants using all of the vehicle's occupant protection equipment. Occupant protection equipment consists of safety belts, air bags, or a combination of both. The results do not apply to unbelted occupants.

Consumers can obtain more detailed information on these crash results by visiting NHTSA's World Wide Web site, http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/testing/ncap/, or by calling the agency's toll-free Auto Safety Hotline, 800-424-9393.

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