Friday, August 15, 2008

My brief stint as a crash-test dummy...

I guess I wasn't cut out to be a crash-test dummy!
Today, I got a chance to visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's research center here in Ruckersville... it's actually just a few miles from our house. 
I was working on a story about the center's research on new technology and actually got to drive two vehicles that have features created to prevent crashes. I actually asked if it was OK that I drive the cars because I was pregnant and I had to sign a waiver (everyone does) saying that I was driving at my own risk.
The first car I got to drive was a 2009 Volvo V70, which is currently not available for sale in the U.S. One of the researchers told me that I was actually driving one of two models currently available... I'm not sure if he meant in the U.S. or anywhere.
It was a blast!
My first instruction was to drive the car into the back of a balloon car... I had to get up to 20 MPH and then just let the car run into the back of the balloon. This was to show off the City Safety feature, which prevents you from running into the back of something.
Needless to say, my first reaction was to hit the brakes just seconds before the City Safety feature kicked in. Everyone else in the car thought it was funny, but I was sorta proud of myself for my maternal instincts kicking in.
Then I had to turn around and do it again...  this time I pretended not to look at the blue balloon car as it got closer and closer and closer.
The safety feature kicked in and the car stopped just inches short of the balloon.
I also got to drive a 2008 S80, which retails at $65,000 in the U.S., and got to see all of its bells and whistles.
I had to drive at 45 MPH and watch as the lights flashed and the car beeped as I got closer and closer to the balloon car. The first time I avoided the balloon by going around it and the second time I hit the brakes when the buzzer went off.
But the third time I did nothing and we crashed into the balloon - sending it flying and scaring me senseless! The car is designed to slow down the automobile somewhat if you don't hit the brakes so the impact is lower.
We also got to peek in on the actual crash test dummies and see where they perform all those tests that Dateline features from time to time. The dummies were really interesting to see because it's very technical!
I was totally impressed by what I saw and asked to come back and see some of the actual crash testing they do twice a week.
It was a lot of fun!

1 comment:

Megan said...

That sounds like a really neat experience!