Side collisions are among the most dangerous car accidents. While in frontal and rear-end collisions the occupants can be well protected by deformation elements placed outside the occupant cell, there is no room for such crush zones in the body's sides.
Nevertheless, a specially developed side-impact protection system for the Corsa, Astra, Vectra and Calibra provides a high degree of occupant safety in case of a side collision. The side-impact protection consists of dual steel-beam door reinforcements, reinforced pillars and sills, as well as high stress-supporting door locks and hinges. In case of an accident, this system reduces the deformation of the body side structures to ensure occupant protection.
In designing the door reinforcements, Opel engineers focused especially on accident statistics. Only about four per cent of vehicle/vehicle accidents are considered right angle side collisions much more frequent are side collisions with the impacting vehicle at an acute angle.
The dual steel-beam door reinforcements are geared to this frequent category of accidents.
Together with the reinforced sills and pillars, as well as a series of other measures, the steel profiles form a combination with double effectiveness: while the lower tube primarily contributes to lateral deformational rigidity, the upper steel profile has the task of vertically fixing the front end and of preventing the incident vehicle from being lifted up when colliding at an acute angle. Of course, the side-impact protection system also ensures greater integrity of the occupants' safety cell in less frequent right angle side collisions.
Developments in safety at Opel also take into account occupant protection in roll-over accidents. In spite of the large glass surfaces and slender roof pillars that provide drivers with excellent all-round visibility, the bodies of Opel cars are notable for their high degree of roll-over safety. Here, the front and rear windscreens, which are directly bonded to the body apertures, play a crucial role by further increasing the body's resistance to deformation.
Crash tests at the Technical Development Center prove the point: in a lateral roll-over accident with a throw speed of 50em/h, the occupant cell suffers no critical deformation and the doors stay closed thanks to their secure locks and hinges.
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