Safety add-ons make the difference

By: Greg Worrall

As part of the recent launch of the new Mercedes Benz Actros prime mover, Owner//Driver had the chance to sample

As part of the recent launch of the new Mercedes Benz Actros prime mover, Owner//Driver had the chance to sample the latest passenger car releases from the German company’s ‘hot rod’ division AMG at the Mt Panorama race track.

While the performance of these cars is nothing less than stunning, with speeds in excess of 240 kmh recorded down the famous Conrod Straight, it was the first hand demonstration of the safety systems that made the most impression.

In the hands of experienced racing driver Bryce Washington, Owner//Driver was given tuition in the right way to attack the demanding circuit, advice which went out the window second time around as the E-Series ran wide over the kerbing at the Skyline section of the race track.

Suddenly skipping across the grass at high speed, the car activated its safety systems to regain control, including a combination of ABS brakes, ESP stability control and pre-tensioner seatbelts.

Despite the relatively high speed as the car left the road, the safety program jostled the car back under control, braked safely to approximately 60 kmh, and then released the seatbelts when sensors reported to the on-board computers that it was safe to resume normal driving.

In terms of elapsed time and distance, the incident lasted just three or four seconds, and covered approximately 60 metres, however on the open road, this is enough to cross the centre line of a road, or run off the road altogether, without intervention.

Much of this equipment is now available on the Actros prime movers, suitably calibrated for heavy transport, and after the practical, but unplanned, demonstration, it is easy to see why many private operators are choosing to specify the safety package.

While it sits dormant for much of the driving experience, it is when it is activated during times of extreme risk that the driver becomes aware of its life-saving capabilities.

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