b3's passive safety.

            If you are traveling, or simply moving, by your car, you are not in your home, in leisure or in fight. You are in defense.

Not the analysis that you are expecting to see!

Official crash test snapshots.

British Columbia University reports:

 British Columbia University's report for some, difficult to explain, facts.

The above report comes from this IIHS document:

Important 3 points

#1 The data above are not for one but for four concecutive years.

#2 The above data are, just, for the 2wd edition and include passive and active safety.

#3 For the 4wd, (Syncro), edition an increase in safety, (and an even lower death rate constant), is expected as you can see here:

"4wd cars are safer".

The second best without airbags, from the same IIHS report,  is:

 MAZDA MPV, Death rate: 39 (Very good still).

In order to give an idea how much exceptional is this rate, (especially for a car of that era), let's consider this 2008 model, with a full set of everything, (all around airbags, abs, esc, esp, post collision safety, electronic brake force distribution, belt pretenstioners, 4wd, and I may have missing something ):

Cadillac Escalade, 2008, IIHS death rate: 37 (IIHS sr5001.pdf).

or, from the same IIHS document, the more similar car type:

Toyota Corolla 2010, (with all the the passive and active safety package), IIHS death rate: 32

A small parenthesis opens:

Those airbags...


"Airbag saves man, then kills him

An engineer is saved in a crash by his airbag. However, during the crash, the airbag bursts and the man inhales some of its noxious chemical fumes. He dies two months later, the fumes being cited as a cause of death."


" NHTSA reports that, as of July 2003, there were 231 confirmed deaths caused by airbag deployments in crashes that would otherwise not have been life threatening".

"The total number of driver and right-front passenger fatalities in cars and light trucks remained relatively unchanged from 1994 through 2002 even as the percent of drivers with airbags increased from 13% to 60% and the percent of passengers with airbags increased from 3% to 50%.2 This finding alone is sufficient to reject the claim that airbags would prevent 12,100 fatalities, as promised in the documentation used to justify the airbag mandate".

  "In one case a woman passenger in a vehicle with no passenger airbag suffered ear injuries that had a devastating effect on her quality of life. A driver-side airbag deploying in a low-severity crash caused her injury. She had no crash-related trauma - her only harm was from the airbag. These injuries are, in principle, included in the injury effectiveness estimates of airbags, but some are of a nature that might be missed in the usual processes of AIS coding."

 "Of the 77 drivers NHTSA identified as killed by airbags in low severity crashes, 75% were female. That is, for every male killed, three females were killed."
Science Serving Society, by Leonard Evans

“In high severity fatal crashes, airbag deployment was not statistically significant in reducing the odds of belted driver fatalities.”

   "Study of airbag effectiveness in high severity frontal crashes".

 Also, according to the AORC, the recommended hand position on steering wheels has changed from ten and two to nine and three o’clock in order to avoid damage to the radius and ulna, the bones in the arm and also to prevent the arm from damaging the face after it is hit by the airbag.        

SCI JOURNER, "The hidden hazards of airbags", 22/June/2010, article excerpt.

"This week's nationwide recall by federal safety regulators on vehicles that contain air bags by the Japanese supplier Takata has consumers on high alert as they try to understand how a safety restraint system that is supposed to protect them could cause bodily harm.  

More than 14 million vehicles from 11 automakers have been recalled worldwide since 2008 over concerns about the Takata-made air bags, including Ford, Honda, Chrysler, Mazda and BMW, mostly from models made in 2008 or earlier. 

 In some cases, drivers died after a Takata air bag inflater ruptured and sprayed metal shrapnel into the car. Regulators are asking for more information on the propellant being used in Takata air bags, to find out if ammonium nitrate—a common compound used in fertilizer—is one of them".

CNBC, article excerpt, 20/November/2014, Lori Ioannou.

But we will discuss many more about the huge topic  "airbags" in a specific page with the central idea "airbags" and if there may be better alternatives, later on.

10/April/2017, update.

(Of course I know that here you are hearing another voice).

 What is SARAC:

"The Safety Rating Advisory Committee (SARAC) is an international forum initiated by the German insurance organisation GDV and the European Comité Europeén des Assurances (CEA). It brings together experts from the crash research community, government agencies, universities and automobile manufacturers. Research was undertaken in the SARAC 1 and SARAC II projects between 1999-2006 funded by the European Commission and the Comité Europeén des Assurances (CEA). In SARACII, safety ratings from around the world were examined to identify and develop advanced methods to assess crashworthiness and aggressivity and other aspects of statistical reliability, presentation of results and areas requiring further research.
SARACII indicated that an ideal retrospective rating should have:
  • A measure of impact severity
  • A range of variables that provide good proxies for impact severity if no measure is available
  • Good data on non-vehicle variables that affect injury outcomes and differ from vehicle to vehicle
  • Full reporting on injury and non injury crashes
None of the existing data sets on which rating systems are based meet these requirements in full. No existing rating has a measure of impact severity and it is not clear how well the available proxy measures represent impact severity. In addition to the need for action on assessing and recording impact severity, SARAC also highlights the need for action on the recording of vehicle annual kilometrage/mileage, the Vehicle Identification Number (as required in the US) and the availability of Event Data Recorders all of which would improve the retrospective rating data sets".

What SARAC have found:


                                                                       Parenthesis closes.

You see they make tests like this:

 (IIHS mf 1130 pdf)

in order to convince us that there is no other way!

10/June/2017, Update.

Latest Passat safety, with full the total of 100, allaround, airbags and 50(?) different more passive and active safety measures, news:

IIHS Passat 2014, (2wd), model, (the latest available data), death rate:


 for the 2wd 1992 b3 model, with ABS, EDL, 4WT, (=4 wheel tracking), much less weight, and 



Thank you for your time!
(Stay tuned, many more are coming).


Now I am going to saw you some videos, which are having another central idea but they are very useful for my proposition. (Heresy).

Please check the position of the front passengers. Do you see something e, hm, uncomfortable? 

b3 (linear stiffness1002.0)


b4 (linear stiffness 997.7)

But before saying anything for the main reason I post the above videos, let me saying something else, since it is a very rare case where a direct comparison of two consecutive models is done, of one manufacturers line, under exactly the same procedures.

b3 vs b4 (revisioned)

According to VW b4 is better than the b3, and the next, the b5, better than the b4, e.t.c. e.t.c..

Now let's have a look at the NHTSA's data:


Model year: 1990 VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT (b3, not specified by NHTSA) 
test weight kg.:1551 
impact speed: 56.0 
Maximum disp. (mm): 0.612 
Linear stiffness (Kn/m) 1002.0


Model year: 1995 VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT (b4, not specified by NHTSA) 
test weight kg.:1650 
impact speed: 56.3 
Maximum disp. (mm): 0.636 
Linear stiffness (Kn/m)  997.7

The difference is a tiny one and I am ready to accept that does not play any role, but:

#1 If there is any difference it is for the older, (b3), model.

#2 Talking about the above videos, the windshield of the b4 is crushed, the windshield of the b3 is not. 

Since I made a reference to the b5, ("laser welding and high grade steel"), for a moment, let's have a look to the next video:
                                                         Passat 1997 b5 offset crash test

The worst happens: the drivers door is opening!

In comparison, having no b3 offset crash test, we can see, the very similar, (but not identical), b4:

(Rated "poor")

You see, this is the inner of the door of a b5...



...and this is the inner of the door of a b3...




The b4 has inner door bars:

The b3 has twin sets of bars on the surface of the door, front and rear:

Passat b3/b4: the front wheels barrier.


Just arrived! The official b35i crash test video clip:

Driver's head barely contacts the wheel. 
That's why this car, (at low-medium velocity speeds), does not need frontal airbags!
(At high speeds, airbags do not offer anything or, worst, are lethal!).

But there is a key point about which a lot more must be said, and that's  the drivers position and his distance from the wheel, since the passenger has no contact with the dashboard, as it is obvious from the above clip.


Although it was one of my expectations, although it is there at Vanagon's official crash tests, (by NHTSA), although for the people into the car industry may be a common knowledge, for me the confirmation, through an official NHTSA's document, is a major event.

The CL5803, (NHTSA, Vehicle safety compliance for the Passat b3 1990),  document, declares:

NHTSA's crash test.
The middle dent, (industry standard), and the suggested, (by me), dent, (the last one).

A position which seems to be the industry standard: the seat is placed in the middle, (about),  dent of the seat track!

But in some cases, such as the Vanagon's crash test on which we will focus later on, a human being with the international average height of 1.75 m, almost, cannot even breath!

NHTSA's crash test for the Vanagon: no well known type human being, (of 1.75 cm height), is able to drive the t3 having his seat at the 8th, (out of  16), dent. 
(Of course, these are the international norms, but, for the real life, much better results are possible using the last dent, and I am referred to heights above 1.75 m).

In the case of the Passat b3, yes, this position is very comfortable but not for very long.

Personally I am feeling much better driving in the last dent, (which sets the driver far away from the steering wheel), but in order to be ready for any situation and, simultaneously, relaxing, supporting my weight not on my waist but distribute it between the two shoulders and the waist, driving with my fingertips, I need this exotic (?) accessory:

DIY armrest.

The same awkward standard is confirmed for the seat's inclination:

21° ? But this is good only for punishment!

Trying to find a norm for the seat's back inclination, (except the personal preferences), thought to ask VW's b35i.

Here is the answer:

These are the rear, (4 positions for the seat cushion and 2 for the seat back = 8 total combined positions), adjustable,  seats.

Tracking their inclination, (by smartphone's "Dioptra", (~ 2°- 4° error)), I have found that their backs, (at the position #1, which seems to be the standard, less vertical position), the slope is somewhere between 25° and 35°. Ι can say that between 25° and 30° are the best results, not ignoring the importance of the personal preferences.

These two adjustments, the seat's track dent and the seat's back inclination, are of a tremendous importance, the difference between airbags and non airbags safety, (for the frontal collisions), setting the driver, for the low and middle velocities accidents, (about the 80%-90% of the cases), out of the steering wheel's bad attitudes.

Of course this is not enough, always. But we 'll elaborate.

(All the above for the "average Joe" in the terms of height, knowing that the "part 572 50th percentile male anthropomorphic test devices", (dummies), used in the above, NHTSA's crash test, had,  1.75 cm height and 77 kg. weight ). 

NHTSA: Passat b3 1990 pre & post crash.


Straigh on a betton barrier with 111 km/hour! (Under angle)
This is why the Monash University, ("wear head protective pad"), is absolutely right.


The shocking truth: the no airbags passive safety:

(Of the '70s)

Please, let me to focus on the last part here: 

Is it clear now how, by sitting properly, the need for the, (frontal), airbags, (and their devils), are cancelled?

Please consider that the above crashing car is a Mercedes but a Mercedes of the '70s.

So after 50 years of evolution the things could be even better, if the manufacturers wanted. 

Of course all these are valid for low to medium velocities. At higher velocities, if the cabin collapses, the airbags may kill! (Hope that I will find the time to bring to you the data).

Another important thing is that if it is possible for the driver, sitting properly, no to hit the steering wheel, it is guaranteed that the passenger, being far away from a, (properly formed), dash, will never touch it. 


b3's structural integrity