May 29, 2003

New Mercedes-Benz features reduce driver stress

Stuttgart, Germany – Mercedes-Benz engineers are developing systems which significantly relieve driver-stress and help to maintain – or in some cases even improve – fitness and alertness while driving. The company says this enables drivers to devote more attention to the road and maintain their performance reserves so as to react safely and capably in critical situations.
Mercedes-Benz has now been carrying out practical research on the mental and physical stresses involved in driving for more than two decades.

Driver-fitness safety includes aspects of the suspension configuration, noise and vibration comfort and seating/climate technology. Another major focus is on the development of efficient support systems which can perform certain tasks during a journey to assist the driver or further improve comfort as the situation requires. Mercedes-Benz developments such as the active cruise control system DISTRONIC, LINGUATRONIC voice control, THERMO-TRONIC intelligent four-zone climate control or the dynamic multi-contour seat are examples of support systems which significantly improve stress-relieving comfort.

During studies in which approximately 2500 persons took part, DaimlerChrysler researchers have found that drivers of the current Mercedes car range are subjected to considerably less stress than in the preceding models. For example muscular tension was around 25 percent lower among drivers of the current S-Class than was measured in the previous model series. Muscular tension enables scientists to draw conclusions about the general physical comfort and alertness of a driver. The values for heart rate and skin conductivity, which are likewise reliable indicators for physiological stress, were also significantly lower in drivers of the current S-Class.

In the E-Class the intelligent overall vehicle concept in conjunction with outstanding suspension, climatic and seating comfort and the use of ultra-modern support systems has a decidedly positive effect. This is shown by a comparative study conducted in spring 2003, which found that the measured heart rate of drivers in the current E-Class was up to 10 percent lower in city traffic and around seven percent lower in motorway traffic compared to the values recorded in other vehicles.

During tests with DISTRONIC involving more than 140 male and female drivers in Germany and the USA, for example, this active cruise control system considerably reduced driver stress levels. With DISTRONIC switched on the mean heart rate only increased by an average of 1.8 beats per minute versus the normal rate, while the increase was 3.2 beats per minute when driving with the system switched off. In addition the mean gap between vehicles increased by up to 29 percent thanks to DISTRONIC.

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