Another Smart Crash Test, Same Result
(NY Times) - Once again the driver's door of a Smart Fortwo has opened in a side-impact crash test, this time in a test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The same thing happened last month, during a test by the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration.
The door opened each time despite a difference in the rams that each group uses to conduct its side-crash tests. The one the insurance institute uses tries to simulate a pickup truck and hits vehicles higher than the carlike ram used in the government test. This did not happen when a European safety agency conducted its tests.
If the door hadn't opened, the Smart would have earned a structural rating of "good" in the institute's test, on a scale that includes good, acceptable, marginal and poor. Because the door unlatched and opened, the rating was downgraded one notch to acceptable.
When the safety agency conducted its crash tests last month, Ken Kettenbeil, a spokesman for Smart, said it appeared the door opening was "an anomaly." The new test results seem to dispute that analysis.
Adrian Lund, the institute's president, said, "The door opening in both isn't chance or random; it's repeatable." He noted, however, that it wasn't unusual for doors to come unlatched given the severity of the institute's test. It is, however, unusual for the doors to come open.
Both the government agency and the insurance group note that doors shouldn't open because in some crashes occupants could be completely or partly ejected from the vehicle, especially if they are unbelted.
So buckle up when you get into a Smart - or into any car, for that matter.