Impact protection

Impact protection  - Overview - Volvo V50

The two front airbags are 'intelligent' and deploy in two stages according to the severity of the accident, alleviating the risk of facial injuries caused by the occupants' faces impacting with the airbag. They are complemented by three-point safety belts with tensioners, which are fitted for all five occupants. The tensioners activate within a few thousandths of a second in the event of a collision and tighten the belt for maximum protection. The front seat safety belts then release a little so that the driver and passenger are cushioned by the airbags in a controlled manner. A seat belt reminder system is fitted in the front and rear of the car - an audible signal is activated if any of the occupants fail to buckle their seat belt.

The Volvo V50's side impact protection is no less impressive. The Volvo V50 is 54mm wider than its predecessor, the Volvo V40, which liberates extra space for deformation in the event of a collision. The dynamics of the SIPS (Side Impact Protection System) are shared with the larger Volvo S80. A large part of the force of a collision that would otherwise penetrate through the side of the car is dissipated by SIPS via beams, pillars, the floor, the roof and other parts of the car body.

The side impact airbags play an important role in protecting the chests of the occupants. They are fitted in the outer edge of the front seats, not in the door, which ensures that they're always securely positioned next to the occupant's side, whatever the position or angle of the seat. They are also larger than they were in the previous-generation Volvo V50 to provide more effective hip and chest protection.

Further protection is provided by the IC (Inflatable Curtain) airbag, which sits in the headlining and protects both front and rear occupants. In the event of a side impact, the Curtain inflates in a few thousandths of a second and then remains inflated for about three seconds in order to provide maximum protection throughout complex collision sequences.

WHIPS

All Volvo cars tested by the International Insurance Whiplash Prevention Group (IIWPG), which includes the UK's Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre in Thatcham, were placed in the 'best' class of their '2005 Dynamic Seat Assessments'. Volvo was the only manufacturer to achieve this result.

"We are very pleased that the Volvo seats have performed in line with our expectations," says Thomas Broberg, Volvo Cars Safety Centre. "Tests only show a part of what happens in real life. However, this is one of several results that confirm Volvo has the right approach to help reduce neck injuries in rear impacts."

Volvo introduced WHIPS (Whiplash Protection System) in the S80 saloon, and it is now fitted across the Volvo range and helps prevent neck and back injuries in a rear impact. In the event of an accident, the entire backrest moves rearwards to reduce the strain on the occupant's back and neck. Then, when their back has been safely restrained by the backrest, it inclines backwards in order to reduce the force that would otherwise throw their head forwards. WHIPS reduces acceleration forces on the neck by about a half.

The WHIPS front seats have been made deliberately robust so that they can withstand high loads from items such as unsecured luggage, but they are also capable of yielding in the event of a severe crash, when strength and flexibility are both required. "Our seats are far sturdier than those usually found in the compact segment," says Broberg.

Volvo's engineers have also made special provision for protecting the next generation. Both of the outer rear seats can be fitted with integrated child booster cushions for children above three years of age. The front passenger airbag can be disabled with a key and the front passenger seat is factory-prepared for fitting a rearward-facing child seat - it has special anchorage loops so that it can be attached using the seat belt.

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