As a result of Honda's extensive commitment to safety, an industry leading five models from Honda - more than any other automotive brand through the '03 model year - achieve the federal government's top Five Star safety rating for the driver and front passenger for front-impact and front and rear seat passenger in side-impact crash tests. Those models are the Pilot, CR-V, Odyssey, Accord Coupe and Civic Coupe (with side SRS). Furthermore, only three passenger car lines in the world have earned an IIHS Offset "Best Pick" together with 5-star front and side NCAP ratings - and two of the three are the Civic and Accord.
Honda's longstanding efforts to improve safety have incorporated three areas - education, active safety and passive safety. From the establishment of four U.S. rider education centers for motorcycles to creating and supporting driver education efforts and seatbelt use campaigns, education plays a significant role in Honda's ongoing efforts to improve safety for everyone who shares the road in a mobile society.
Active safety features - the dynamic ability of a motor vehicle to help its driver avoid an accident - form the foundation of Honda safety and include designing vehicles with a clear field of vision for the driver, placing controls for ease of operation, and using advanced suspension technologies that provide the necessary "go, stop, turn" capabilities that can help a driver avoid an accident. Anti-lock brakes, electronic brake distribution, traction control and Vehicle Stability Assist systems are further advances in active safety technology that Honda applies to many of its vehicles.
Adding to this foundation of active safety, Honda incorporates extensive passive safety technologies into the body and frame construction of its automobiles and light trucks, as well as unique passive restraint systems. Honda has developed a body frame structure that helps control and distribute G-forces experienced during a collision away from occupants. The goal is to overcome two contradictory challenges - absorbing impact energy and securing the cabin space. Honda has applied this body structure to production models - including small-size vehicles. For instance, the mid-size Accord's carefully designed load paths help maintain the integrity of the passenger compartment during a collision, while frontal impact energy is efficiently dispersed to reduce cabin deformation.
While proud of these achievements, as a maker of vehicles of varying sizes, Honda wanted to take the initiative to address the growing number of accidents between vehicles of different weights and sizes. As a result, Honda has been conducting independent research into exploring crash safety technology. This effort includes the construction of Honda's $64 million crash test facility at the Tochigi R&D Center in Japan, which opened in 2000.
The facility allows Honda to independently research vehicle-to-vehicle collisions and explore crash safety technology in "real world" situations with vehicles of various sizes, designs and weights. The indoor research facility, about the size of a baseball field, allows engineers to crash vehicles together at various angles and speeds and re-create collisions close to those in the real world.
The facility has helped Honda develop an all-new body and frame structure that enhances occupant protection while reducing its aggressiveness toward other vehicles. Honda's new crash compatibility body employs a front-end frame structure that reduces the potential concentrated force of an impact by dispersing and absorbing crash energy over a larger area - and does not easily become misaligned laterally or vertically with the frame of the other vehicle involved in the crash. The first vehicle to use this technology, the Japan-market Life minicar, went on sale in September. In the future, during full model changeovers, vehicles built on new platforms will be equipped with the new crash compatibility body design.
Honda's passive restraint technology, such as air bag systems and dual seat belt pre-tensioning systems, has also played a lead role in achieving outstanding passive safety. Honda gained a core understanding of airbags in the 1980s, through early investment and independent development of passive restraint technology. For instance, from the beginning, Honda's passenger side front airbag design was innovative because it deployed upward toward the windshield rather than directly at the passengers in order to avoid direct inflation into an out of position occupant, including children. Honda has also been an early adopter of dual stage, dual threshold airbags that utilize both crash severity and seat belt use to determine deployment.
Honda was also the first manufacturer to introduce side airbags for the front seat passenger with out of position sensors for children and small stature adults. Dual pre-tensioners on the front seatbelts of the Civic, Accord, CR-V and Element allow the shoulder portion and the lap portion of the belt to be pulled tightly to help firmly secure the occupant in the seat in the event of a collision. Typically, a pre-tensioner has been used to pull only the shoulder belt tight in the event of a collision. Dual-pre tensioner seatbelts play a significant role in meeting five star safety targets and enhancing safety for the occupants.
In focusing on "safety for everyone" - Honda is committed to improving safety for all road users, including the protection of pedestrians. Toward this end, Honda has independently developed the most advanced pedestrian dummy in the world, called POLAR II. With unique human-like joint structures, instruments in POLAR II also measure the level of injury in eight regions, including the neck, abdomen and legs.
Based on research using its advanced pedestrian dummies, Honda began implementing body design features for pedestrian protection in 1998 in Japan. Currently, U.S. models with these features include the Honda Civic, CR-V, Pilot, Element and Accord. To enhance pedestrian protection, the structure of the fender to the frame was designed to include a space to absorb impact energy, the wiper pivot was modified with slots that enable it to break away to help absorb energy, and the hood hinge and the hood were redesigned to bend with the force of an impact.
Honda's goal is to be a company that "society wants to exist." Honda is dedicated to furthering its existing safety technologies, often exceeding requirements, while developing new approaches to safety for a mobile society with the ultimate dream of developing accident-free vehicles. Honda is committed to pursuing a course of action that acknowledges that mixed traffic is a reality of today's world. In particular, as a maker of small cars, light trucks, motorcycles and other products that provide people mobility - Honda is committed to the concept of "Safety for Everyone."