Thursday, April 3, 2008

2008 Smart Fortwo Crash Test Concerns

SAFETY CONCERN: During the side impact test, the driver door unlatched and opened. A door opening during a side impact crash increases the likelihood of occupant ejection.

The Associated Press reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's crash tests of the Smart Fortwo revealed safety issues.

"During the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration side test on the Smart two-door, the driver door unlatched and opened. The government said that could increase the likelihood of a driver or passenger being ejected from the 8-foot, 8-inch vehicle.

NHTSA, however, still gave the car its top score of five stars in side testing because of the ability of the car to protect the driver and passenger from injuries in a crash.

Rae Tyson, a NHTSA spokesman, said the rating is based on the level of protection that the vehicle provides to occupants, but it wanted to note a potential safety implication.

"Given the amount of attention on smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles in general and this vehicle specifically, we wanted to try to get the vehicle tested and the results out there as quickly as possible," Tyson said.

Ken Kettenbeil, a Smart spokesman, said the vehicle was designed to receive a four-star crash rating from U.S. regulators and the results were consistent with their expectations and similar tests in Europe. He called the safety concern in the side crash an "anomaly."

In other NHTSA tests, the Fortwo received four out of five stars in the front-end crash on the driver's side. On the passenger side, it received three out of five stars, meaning the passenger would face a 21 percent to 35 percent chance of serious injury.

In rollovers, the Fortwo received 3 out of 5 stars and had a 21 percent risk of rollover."

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