The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Sprinter Puts Safety in the Driver's Seat

June 2013, by Chris Wolski - Also by this author

Safety is definitely the theme for the MY-2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
The automaker’s latest refresh of the van, which debuted in 1995, features a number of new features designed to make operating the van safer and more efficient.

Automotive journalists from around the globe, including Work Truck magazine, recently put these features and the van’s drivability to the test during a ride-and-drive event hosted by Mercedes-Benz in Dusseldorf, Germany, home of one of the Sprinter’s manufacturing plants.

Company leadership outlined the new MY-2014 Sprinter’s fleet benefits, including improvements in CO2 emissions, fuel efficiency (up to 18 percent), and strong resale values.

“This is probably the best Sprinter ever. We will be the segment’s benchmark,” said Claus Tritt, general manager of Commercial Vehicles at Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA), during his briefing.

The MY-2014 Sprinter includes a number of upgraded safety features, including crosswind assist, collision prevention assist, blind spot assist, highbeam assist, and lane-keeping assist.
The MY-2014 Sprinter includes a number of upgraded safety features, including crosswind assist, collision prevention assist, blind spot assist, highbeam assist, and lane-keeping assist.

Putting Safety First

The MY-2014 Sprinter includes a number of upgraded safety features, including crosswind assist, collision prevention assist, blind spot assist, highbeam assist, and lane-keeping assist.

Crosswind assist is part of the Sprinter’s electronic stability program (ESP), which is available as standard equipment on all models, and consists of antilock brakes, acceleration slip regulation, electronic brake force distribution, hydraulic brake assist, load adaptive control, roll over mitigation, enhanced understeering control system, automatic brake disc drying system, and electronic brake prefill.

Crosswind assist is designed to compensate for the effects of wind gusts on the vehicle, which can cause a driver to dangerously oversteer and/or drift out of the lane. The crosswind assist system is based on the automaker’s ESP, and is activated when traveling 50 mph.

During the ride-and-drive, participants put this system to the test on a track equipped with industrial-grade fans that produced gale-force winds.
The crosswind assist detects forces acting on the vehicle as a result of a crosswind or wind gusts by reference to the data supplied by the sensors for yaw rate and lateral acceleration, which form part of the ESP, according to Mercedes-Benz. During a high-wind event, the crosswind assist is able to identify the strength of the crosswind and compensates, taking into account the vehicle’s speed, load, load position, and the driver’s steering behavior. If the driver does manually oversteer, the crosswind assist will automatically be reduced.

Rear-end traffic collisions are among the most common traffic accidents that fleet drivers can experience, particularly in heavy urban traffic where stop-and-go driving and sudden stops are common. The MY-2014 Sprinter’s optional collision prevention assist system is designed to avoid or mitigate these collisions.

The system warns the driver when the distance from the vehicle ahead is too short and at a further escalation level, when there is an acute danger of collision. The warning comes in the form of an auditory and/or visual signal.

The radar-based proximity warning assist helps the driver maintain an appropriate safe distance from the vehicle in front, according to Mercedes-Benz. A radar sensor in the Sprinter’s front bumper continuously measures the distance from the vehicle ahead in the same lane and the relative speeds of the two vehicles, according to the automaker. The proximity warning assistant calculates the necessary safe distance on the basis of this information.

The system is operational at a speed of about 20 mph.

If the driver does not take evasive maneuvers to either slow down or change lanes, the system will pre-charge the brakes. The system can be switched off as necessary.

The optional blindspot assist adds an a warning triangle at the bottom of each sideview mirror, designed to give warning of objects in the driver’s blind spot. If a driver attempts to change lanes with a vehicle in the blindspot, a warning alarm sounds.

The optional lane keeping assist sounds an alarm if a driver has strayed out of his or her lane. The optional highbeam assist automatically switches the highbeams on or off as the situation warrants, and reduces the possibility of oncoming drivers becoming dazzled by the halogen or bi-xenon headlamps equipped on the Sprinter, according to Mercedes-Benz.
Also available are back up cameras, a backup warning system, the PARKTRONIC system, and an optional tire monitoring system, among other safety options.

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