Car news

29 April 2015

Mercedes kicks off 'Safe Roads' awareness campaign

To organise exhibitions in six cities across India in a bid to educate the masses about the perils of irresponsible driving

Amaan Ahmed
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I'm in the back seat of a cab that is taking me to Pragati Maidan. The seat belts are there all right, but the buckles aren't. Most back seat travelers wouldn't even notice. Who needs to wear a seat belt in the back? No?

Well, that is the sort of attitude Mercedes-Benz is out to change with its new CSR campaign, christened 'Safe Roads'. Apparently, the folks in Stuttgart have been poring over the data relayed to them by their Indian counterparts, and are deeply concerned about India's disturbing road fatality rate. Something must change, and Mercedes wants to start at a basic level with this programme.

So, what is it, you ask. Having teamed up with JP Research, Apollo Hospitals and IIT Delhi, M-B is going to set up a few exhibits at select institutes in six cities: Delhi, Ahmedabad, Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. Part of the package are a belt-slide demonstration (tandem seats being launched down a ramp, coming to a sudden halt at a speed of 11kph) to highlight the importance of wearing a seat belt, the skeleton of an E-Class drop-top with the high-tensile steel construction marked out in different colours, an 'alcohol glasses' section, where you wear goggles that mess up your vision to give you a feel of what it's like to drive after having one drink too many, and a previous-gen S-Class branded the 'experimental safety vehicle', also the ESF2009 (from 2009, as you may have understood), which features tech seen on some current Mercedes cars.

This is about asking the people to become better drivers. But what about helping them become better drivers?

"We have driver training academies in other countries, but it works out a little too expensive in India. That said, we will definitely look at having such an academy here as well", remarked Jochen Feese, Head of Accident Research at Mercedes-Benz.

The radar-assisted braking technology (offered on the new S abroad, missing from the car sold here) will only come through when the Indian government - currently in talks with M-B - permits it, but by then, it'll probably be time for an ESF2016. What sort of techno-trickery will that be loaded with? Will it be a driverless car?

"It will receive some more path-breaking safety features that we're working on, but on a fully autonomous vehicle, the safety aspect changes dramatically. In a fully autonomous car, the driver himself is a safety feature. All the active safety features can work automatically and well in the cars of today with the driver at the helm, but if a car also has to take care of the driving part, it may be a little too much for the electronic brain to process" says Matthias Struck, Merc's senior safety engineer.

But, that's a different dimension altogether. For now, the focus is on getting more people to buckle up. Not for the sake of avoiding fines, but for the sake of their own well-being. Good on you, M-B India.


Tags: mercedes benz, s class



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