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18 February 2013 visits Nissan's Safety Driving Forum

Nissan invited us to an event that involved a tiny little crash and a Micra that rolled over. Naturally, we just had to attend

Amaan Ahmed
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What kind of emotions would scurry through your head if someone invited you to come along and experience what an accident feels like? Fear? Hesitance? A mix of both?

Not us. Nissan organised the Safety Driving Forum (titled NSDF) over the weekend in Mumbai. It would be, we were told, an engaging experience. Really? A CSR activity? Meh. What could possibly make it exciting?

As I made my way through to the parking lot of the suburban mall the event was organised in, I could see two podiums - one housing a Micra that sat on a giant metallic pivot, and the other with a seat mounted on a small box with a steering wheel that was almost a kilometre away from the seat itself.

Only when I got closer did I realise what these folks were up to - the Micra actually used the pivot to roll over inside the podium (albeit gently), and the seat on the box was supposed to resemble a car that would run into an obstruction at less than 10kph, which would inflate the airbag. This is when it got interesting.

First up, the mini-crash sequence. I buckled up, as the seat platform was pulled all the way back to the start point. "Any instructions?" was my query for the technician. "Just keep your hands on your knees, let your head rest on the headrest and relax. If you stiffen up, the impact may snap your neck" was his reply. Reassuring, most certainly.

Handbrake off. The seat rolls down the ramp, gathering speed and within a matter of seconds, an airbag blows out through the steering wheel, but is nowhere close to my face, since the steering wheel was mounted so far away from the person in the seat, it might as well have been in another state altogether. I wasn't complaining though.

This activity also highlighted the importance of a seatbelt. The impact, even at a fairly moderate speed was more than just a jolt. Without a seatbelt, the Nissan logo would have been embossed on my face as soon as the platform rammed into the obstruction. Now, it was time for the rollover.

Getting into the Micra with three other people, I was first briefed about what I should do once the car is flipped upside down. More curious than anxious to pop my rollover cherry, I signalled to the techie to let the pivot do its thing.

The technician pressed a big red button. As soon as he did that, the car started to lean towards the left, as my discomfort started to make itself apparent. It was almost as if we'd met with an accident, only in slow-motion (which was a good thing). When the car was completely on its side, I could feel myself moving about in the seat, and the sensation would have you believe that you would just fall out any moment now.

It was about to get worse, however. The car kept rolling, and soon, the Micra was on its roof. As we were literally hung upside down, I pushed my hands against the roof for support, as did the others, since we all felt that we'd land square on our heads if we didn't. Luckily, I also had the footwell to jam my feet into, or my small frame would've made it easier for the seatbelt to let go of me, or so I thought.

The car kept rolling, and as it came back to its original, road-going self, I could feel my blood circulation return to normal. Stepping out of the car, I still felt a little heavy-headed.

The experience was done with. Talking to the technical head revealed just why I didn't fall out of my seat when the car had rolled over completely - once the car tips over a certain angle, the seatbelts lock up and thus, you can't fall out of your seat.

It was a simple, yet informative event. It underlined the importance of wearing a seatbelt, not theoretically, but practically. Remember, this Micra rolled over in super slow-mo, yours, might not.

Tags: nissan, micra, safety driving forum, nsdf



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