Euro NCAP Crash Tests: Phase 12 Results | Part Three

Almost fifty years of history: safety at Renault

For nearly 50 years, Renault has made safety a strategic priority. Every year the group earmarks a budget of around E100 million for safety and has almost 600 highly expert specialists working in the discipline. Drawing on the accident research database compiled by the Laboratory for Accident Research, Biomechanics and Study of Human Behaviour (LAB) based on the study of real-world accidents, Renault has continuously developed innovative, high-performance systems to help prevent accidents, correct vehicle handling and protect occupants in the event of an impact.

Renault’s principle of "safety for all" involves guaranteeing all occupants, both front and rear, the same degree of safety in both small and large cars. Renault now boasts a range with the highest level of passive safety currently on the market, as proven by recent crash test results from the independent European organisation Euro NCAP. Renault is the only manufacturer to have a five-star rating awarded to four of its current vehicles –Vel Satis, Laguna II, Mégane II and now New Espace IV.

Renault has also been working on improving active safety and has developed aids to help drivers cope with critical situations, in addition to work on the basic functions of roadholding and braking. Active safety systems include ABS fitted as standard to all Renaults sold in the UK except Kangoo since 2001, Emergency Brake Assist, which helps the driver boost braking power to its fullest extent in an emergency situation, and ESP, which allows the driver to retain control of the car in the event of loss of grip, in an emergency manoeuvre, avoiding an obstacle, swerving or over- or under-steering.

Renault also offers systems to help make drivers more responsible. These include the seatbelt reminder, with a sound alarm in addition to a dashboard warning light, and an ESP warning light which comes on when the system comes into operation in a bend to alert drivers that their speed is inappropriate. Similarly, the programmable speed limiter, introduced on Laguna II in 2001, has now been carried over to almost the entire Renault range either as standard or as an option. The driver programs in a speed he does not wish to exceed. If he tries to do so, the accelerator pedal becomes inoperative. If required, forcing the pedal down beyond a point of resistance at the end of its travel will override the speed limit programmed; once the manoeuvre is complete, the limiter function becomes operational again.

Awareness and education

Beyond automobile safety as such, Renault is also committed to road safety. Because the human cost is so high (more than 40,000 deaths per year on the road in Europe/ 1,800 in the UK) and knowing that human error is responsible for approximately 80% of accidents, Renault has launched major programmes targeting school children and young people to make them more aware of the dangers of the road. The aim is to promote responsible behaviour from the earliest age and create potentially responsible drivers.

The international "Safety for All" programme involves twelve countries including the U.K. It targets children aged 7 to 11, who are still young enough to modify their behaviour. Since the launch in 2000 of the "Kids on the Road" teaching kit, sent free of charge to teachers in primary schools, 200,000 classes and almost 5 million pupils have been made more aware of road safety. In the U.K., 60% of Primary schools have applied to Renault to use the pack, teaching road safety in 15,000 schools. The Safety for All programme includes a website (www.safetymatters.renault.co.uk ) intended for children, parents and teachers and an international competition.

Published 20 July 2003 Melanie Carter

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