History: dedicated to the pursuit of safety for 50 years

29 January 1969 was a cold, grey winter's day. At the Interior Ministry of the state of Baden-Württemberg, government officials and police commissioners came together with representatives from the then Daimler-Benz AG for a meeting lasting several hours. On the agenda was an extraordinary request by the automotive company: a request for police support in the reconstruction and analysis of traffic accidents involving Mercedes-Benz models.

In this way the development engineers sought to obtain findings from real accidents and use them for the further improvement of occupant safety. Daimler-Benz had already gained some initial experience in this field two years earlier, during a six-month pilot test: from January to June 1967, employees of the company worked together with police personnel to examine serious traffic accidents occurring in the Böblingen area and on the No. 8 motorway.

During the conference at the ministry, the company sought to put this research project on a broader and above all permanent basis. And this move has been a successful one: the heads of the relevant police departments once again indicated their willingness to cooperate. An express letter informing other official bodies and requesting assistance was sent out immediately. On 29 April 1969, the accident research project received the official go-ahead.

Once additional details had been clarified, the Interior Ministry using case reference number III 5304/126 decreed that in future, police stations would inform the car manufacturer by telephone when accidents happened, and that representatives of the company were permitted to view the accident files and question the relevant officers about the circumstances of the accident. The reason given: "The Interior Ministry supports the in-house research activities of Daimler-Benz AG, as they are of general importance for traffic safety."

Accident data also from GIDAS and CIDAS

When Mercedes-Benz Accident Research began its systematic work in spring 1969, accident analyses in Germany were still a rarity. It was not until 1970 that the German Parliament decided to establish a division at the German Federal Highway Institute (BASt) that as a central body dealt with the important tasks of accident research. As a result, a study project was developed that began in 1973 and still runs to this very day. Title: "Investigations at the accident site". Today the database goes by the name GIDAS (German In-Depth Accident Study) and every year provides data on about 2000 traffic accidents that happen in the vicinity of the cities of Hanover and Dresden. They are representative for Germany. Mercedes-Benz Accident Research works closely together with the GIDAS project. The accident investigations and reconstructions are conducted by the two GIDAS research contractors, the Traffic Accident Research Institute at the TU Dresden and the Accident Research Department of the Medical University of Hanover.

Nowadays Mercedes-Benz Accident Research also uses data from CIDAS (China In-Depth Accident Study), one of the most detailed accident databases currently available in China. CIDAS started as a project of the China Automobile Technology and Research Center (CATARC) in 2011 with the aim of collecting data on 500 to 600 accidents per year and analysing them. Six cities throughout China are currently taking part: Changchun, Beijing, Weihai, Ningbo, Chengdu und Foshan. The goal is to cover all characteristic types of roads and economic conditions in China. The CIDAS investigative team, which works 24 hours a day in shifts, accompanies traffic police to the accident site when someone is injured, at least one four-wheeled vehicle is involved and the accident scene is still unaltered.