Safety - at the heart of all our thinking

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The Integrated Safety Concept from Mercedes-Benz

Virtually no other area inspires the Mercedes-Benz engineers to produce such consistently impressive results as much as research into new safety technologies. The first important safety milestone was reached back in the 1950s with the development of the passenger safety cell, invented by Béla Barényi. Today it is just one of many components of the Integral Safety Concept which edges Mercedes-Benz vehicles ever closer to our vision of accident-free driving.

Phase 1: safe driving

The majority of accidents start long before the actual collision: with a lapse in concentration, poor visibility or hazards which cannot be anticipated. That's why the Mercedes-Benz safety concept employs a range of measures to support safe driving in everyday operation and to help you bring critical situations under control.

DISTRONIC PLUS proximity control (optional)[1]

DISTRONIC PLUS proximity control helps the driver to maintain a specified (timed) distance from the vehicle ahead when travelling at speeds of 0 to 200 km/h.

Implementing BAS PLUS Brake Assist in conjunction with the PRE-SAFE® brake system can help to avoid rear-end collisions more effectively. If radar sensors identify a potential collision and the driver applies the brake, BAS PLUS is primed to apply braking in accordance with the situation.

If a potential collision is identified at a speed above 30 km/h and the driver fails to apply the brakes sufficiently early, the PRE-SAFE® brake system emits visual and audible signals. If the driver does not respond to this warning, independent partial braking is activated approx. 1.6 seconds before the calculated impact at a deceleration rate of up to 4m/s2. If the system categorises the situation as highly critical and there is still no reaction from the driver, an independent full brake application can be initiated automatically 0.6 seconds before what is considered an unavoidable impact.

Active Lane Keeping Assist (optional)[1]

The Active Lane Keeping Assist feature warns the driver by means of a discreet vibration of the steering wheel as soon as he unintentionally drifts across the lane markings which have been registered by the system, and leaves the lane he is in. If the vehicle is crossing a solid line and the driver does not react to the warning, braking is applied to individual wheels as required. If, however, prior to crossing the lane, the indicator had been actuated or the steering wheel firmly turned, the system assumes that the lane change is intentional and does not react.

Active Blind Spot Assist (optional)[1]
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The Active Blind Spot Assist helps the driver to avoid dangers caused by other vehicles to the left and right of the vehicle when changing lane.

Close-proximity radar sensors monitor the difficult-to-see areas of the blind spot at speeds above 30 km/h. If the system detects another vehicle within monitoring range, a hazard warning triangle lights up in the corresponding exterior mirror. If the driver then operates the indicator, an additional audible warning is sounded. This also happens if vehicles move from two lanes away into the lane alongside the driver. If the driver does not react to the warning signal, the system can automatically brake the individual wheels in order to prevent a possible accident.

ATTENTION ASSIST (optional)[2]
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The ATTENTION ASSIST function is particularly helpful on long journeys and when driving at night; the system warns the driver if it detects signs of failing attention and increasing weariness.

Between 80 and 180 km/h, ATTENTION ASSIST warns the driver visually and audibly as soon as it detects any signs of drowsiness or inattention. In the background, sensors analyse driving behaviour to detect any changes compared with the previously determined individual driver profile.

The ATTENTION ASSIST system comes as standard with the ELEGANCE and AVANTGARDE equipment lines and in V6-engine vehicles.

Adaptive brake light, flashing

If an emergency stop is made from an initial speed of more than 50 km/h, the adaptive brake lights flash 5.5 times per second. This flashing of the brake lights warns the vehicles travelling behind, which can give them more time to react. If the vehicle is braked to a complete stop from a speed in excess of 70 km/h, the hazard warning lamps are also switched on.

ADAPTIVE BRAKE braking system

The standard-fit ADAPTIVE BRAKE system improves ride comfort and safety by helping to perform critical braking manoeuvres with the basic function of the ABS anti-lock braking system while convenience functions make it easier to master challenging driving situations.

  • Supportive HOLD function: Activating the HOLD function of the ADAPTIVE BRAKE system by stepping on the brake pedal (depressing firmly) keeps the vehicle from rolling unintentionally when stopped at a light or in stop-and-go traffic.
  • Extra help: The Hill-Start Assist function prevents the vehicle from rolling back unexpectedly on inclines when moving from the brake to the accelerator pedal.
  • Full braking power without delay: The "brake drying" function removes the film of water that forms on the brake discs in wet conditions.
PARKTRONIC parking aid, including Parking Guidance (optional)

The PARKTRONIC parking aid including Parking guidance assists the driver when looking for a parking place and makes it easier to park by giving concrete steering instructions.

Ultrasonic sensors in the side front bumper measure the length of parking spaces parallel to the car automatically if the car drives past at a speed of 35 km/h or less. Parking Guidance starts once a suitable space has been found and reverse gear has been engaged. It provides the driver with precise directions regarding the correct steering angle as well as the turn-in and turn-back points on the instrument cluster.

The PARKTRONIC electronic parking aid monitors the front and rear of the vehicle when manoeuvring with the help of ten sensors and warns the driver if it detects a risk of collision. If the system identifies an obstruction, it emits a visual signal. As soon as the distance is less than approximately 35 cm, a short warning sound is emitted in addition. If the vehicle gets even closer (less than approximately 25 cm away) a continuous signal is heard. PARKTRONIC uses this procedure to make parking easier, even with limited space available. If the car is not straight after the first reversing move, the system also helps the driver with the required manoeuvres.

The system is only available in conjunction with the optional luxury multifunction steering wheel.

Speed Limit Assist (optional)[3]
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Speed Limit Assist is a component of the optional COMAND Online multimedia system and uses an integrated camera to identify the speed limits displayed on road signs and show the permitted maximum speed on the central display. The system also compares identified speed limits against the data stored in the navigation system.

Intelligent Light System with LED daytime running lamps (optional)

The Intelligent Light System – as an active component of the safety concept – ensures the best possible visibility in all weather conditions and the most diverse traffic situations. When encountering oncoming traffic, in curves, fog or on free stretches of road the system adjusts to the situation adapting the characteristics of the light individually.

  • Brings light to the darkness: In the “country light” mode the light from the low-beam headlamps is distributed in such a manner that the edge of the carriageway is significantly better illuminated than with conventional headlamps.
  • Increases dynamically: The motorway mode is automatically activated in two levels: from 90 km/h the system increases the output of the bi-xenon lamps. From 110 km/h the setting of the headlamp on the inside of the traffic lane also changes to uniformly illuminate the entire width of the lane for a distance of up to around 120 metres.
  • Enhances safety: With the extended fog lamp function the system improves the visibility when fog is present. The left-hand bi-xenon headlamp pivots outwards and the light cone is simultaneously lowered. This light function is automatically activated as soon as the rear fog lamp is switched on if the vehicle is not travelling faster than 70 km/h.
  • Follows every curve: The active light function follows the driver’s steering angle: sensor data on the steering angle, yaw rate and vehicle speed allow the bi-xenon headlamps to pivot to the side in fractions of a second as soon as the vehicle drives into a curve. With the “cornering light” function the cornering lamps automatically switch on when the driver activates the turn indicator or turns the steering wheel.
  • Extended vision without having to push a button: The Adaptive Highbeam Assist provides the best possible low-beam headlamp range. This makes it possible to see pedestrians, cyclists or obstacles at an earlier stage than with conventional low-beam headlamps. A camera is used to control headlamp range adjustment and the main beams in such a way that the road receives the best possible illumination in line with the current driving scenario and the road users ahead. If the system registers oncoming vehicles or vehicles ahead, it continuously adjusts the beam range to the distance so that the cone of light ends before it meets these vehicles. The high beam automatically switches on when no other road users are detected. A special feature is the gentle transition from one type of light to the other without an abrupt change in intensity.
Reversing camera (optional)
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The rear-view camera offers convenience and added safety. Integrated in the boot lid, the camera transmits an image of the area behind the vehicle to the COMAND screen. The camera image not only makes parking easier but also aids in manoeuvring on difficult terrain.

Phase 2: in critical situations

Mercedes-Benz stands for automotive safety. That's why our vehicles can support their passengers even in critical driving situations, so that every journey is as safe as it can possibly be.

Brake Assist BAS PLUS (optional)[1]

The BAS PLUS Brake Assist system can help to prevent a rear-end collision or at least reduce the impact speed. With this system, two radar systems monitor the short, medium and long-range areas in front of the vehicle and detect objects up ahead. Their distance from the vehicle is calculated and the relative speed of the vehicles in front is determined compared with the vehicle’s own speed.

If the system detects a severe shortening of the distance, such that a rear-end collision may occur, then the BAS PLUS Brake Assist system prepares for deployment. The electronics system calculates the braking deceleration required to avert the accident. If the driver hits the brakes hard, BAS PLUS recognises this and automatically optimises the braking pressure needed to prevent an impact.

Depending on the car’s speed and its distance from the vehicle in front, BAS PLUS can either implement systematic braking or, if necessary, increase braking power up to maximum force. BAS PLUS engages only if the driver’s braking reaction is not sufficient to prevent an accident. BAS PLUS shuts off braking support if the driver stops braking or the radar no longer detects an object in front of the car. At the heart of the BAS PLUS Brake Assist system, which is available in conjunction with the optional DISTRONIC PLUS proximity cruise control system, are sensors which monitor the area surrounding the vehicle and are able to detect potential dangers in mere fractions of a second.

PRE-SAFE® occupant protection system (optional)
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The preventive PRE-SAFE® occupant protection system can recognise critical driving situations and, if necessary, pre-emptively activate reversible safety systems to help reduce the risk of injury to the vehicle occupants.

This is based on PRE-SAFE® continuously monitoring sensor data from systems such as ESP® and BAS and identifying driving situations such as oversteer/understeer and emergency stops.

If a typical critical driving scenario is identified, the belt tensioners can be activated, the electrically adjustable front-passenger seat moved to a better position for impact (only in conjunction with the Memory Package), and the side windows and panoramic sliding sunroof (optional) closed automatically – all within a fraction of a second and in accordance with the situation.

Phase 3: in an accident

Cars from Mercedes-Benz have a host of safety systems to prevent accidents. Should the worst come to the worst, however, a comprehensive range of occupant safety measures are activated. They include protection for the vehicle occupants as well as for other road users.

Airbags for driver and front passenger
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The airbags for the driver and front passenger provide protection for the occupants’ heads and upper torsos in a collision, and also afford additional stability to the entire body. They are thus able to mitigate the severity of injuries sustained in an accident. If the crash sensors detect an impending collision, the airbags are deployed. For this, a current impulse is sent from the control unit which ignites the kneebag’s initiator, which in turn ignites a solid propellant. The gases which are released in this way fill the airbag. The gases are subsequently expelled from the side of the airbag, away from the occupants.

The gas generators of both front airbags work in two stages. Both stages are activated depending on the braking force applied. Depending on the predicted severity of the impact, the first stage of the gas generator is initially activated and the airbag only partially filled. If a higher severity of impact is predicted, the second stage of the gas generator is activated after a slight delay and the airbag is completely filled.

Kneebag for driver

The kneebag on the driver’s side helps to protect the legs during impact and also stabilises the entire body. It can thus help mitigate the potential severity of injuries sustained in an accident. If the crash sensors detect a collision of a certain strength, the kneebag is deployed.

NECK-PRO head restraints for driver and front passenger
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Activated in the event of a rear-end collision, NECK-PRO head restraints are adjustable for the driver and front passenger and can reduce the risk of sustaining a whiplash injury. If a collision occurs, they provide head support and reduce the load on the spine at an early stage by employing a spring mechanism to thrust the head restraints forward and upwards. The restraints can be returned manually to the original position after activation.

Sidebags for driver and front passenger

The sidebags fitted as standard for the driver and co-driver provide protection for the occupants’ bodies in a side-on collision, and also afford additional stability to the entire body. They are thus able to mitigate the severity of injuries sustained in an accident.

Sidebags in the rear (optional)

The sidebags in the rear are stored behind the wheel arch lining. When they are deployed during a side collision they provide potential protection for the chest area of the rear-seat passengers.

They are triggered when the central control unit and the side satellite sensors register acceleration or deceleration forces acting on the vehicle in excess of a certain threshold. The sidebags deploy at chest height between the vehicle side and the occupant.

Windowbags for driver and co-driver

In the event of a sufficiently severe side impact, the windowbag deploys to cover the side windows and reduce the risk of a collision between the passenger’s head and the side of the vehicle or of objects penetrating the vehicle interior. The windowbag is always triggered on the side of the vehicle involved in the side impact.

When deployed, the windowbag spreads across the side windows between the A-pillar and C-pillar. The windowbag covers a large part of the surface area at the side.

The windowbag offers the following advantages:

  • Can help to protect the head area in the event of a side impact.
  • The design and large volume means that occupants are afforded an outstanding level of protection, regardless of their size.
  • Deployment between A and C-pillar means that protection is extended to rear passengers in the outer seats.
  • Reduces head movement in the event of a direct collision.
  • Reduces penetration of fragments and other objects into the interior.

Phase 4: after an accident

To reduce consequential damage after an accident and support the work of the rescue services, a number of different actions are initiated, depending on the type and severity of the accident:

  • Best possible protection: the engine can be turned off automatically and the fuel supply can be cut off.
  • Eye-catching lighting: hazard and emergency interior lights can activate automatically to lower the risk of accidents and help locate the car.
  • Making escape easier: the door locking mechanism can be automatically released.
  • Measures to aid rescue: integral crash joints between the wing and the door can make opening the doors after a frontal collision easier.
  • Helpful connection: In the event of an accident or breakdown the Mercedes-Benz emergency call system (in conjunction with a connected mobile phone) can automatically contact an emergency call centre.

To complete its holistic safety philosophy, Mercedes-Benz has also published multilingual rescue guidelines (accessible worldwide on the internet) as a preventive measure for rescue services.

[1] A component of the optional Driving Assistance package Plus.[2] A component of the optional comfort multifunction steering wheel with 12 buttons.[3] A component of the optional COMAND Online multimedia system.[4] Available as an individual option or as part of the optional Lane Tracking package.