With a fine brush, he paints red eyebrows, blue lips, and a green nose on the dummy. He coats the
shins in strips of various colors. The choice of colors isn’t haphazard. "There’s an EU regulation foreach color, just like for the calibration
of the dummies. It’s all regulated,
down to the smallest detail," Westphal explains.
The colorful imprint on the airbag is provided by a chalk paint that is always freshly mixed. Like a makeup artist at the theater, Westphal holds a small paint box and applies the paint. The result is always different – depending on whether a European or an American is at the wheel during the sled test. "For an American test, we paint the dummy’s entire head in yellow, not just parts of the face. That’s because seatbelts aren’t mandatory everywhere in the US. For that reason, we also examine where
the back side of the head hits and how the head rolls."
Nothing breaks during the sled test, despite the force of the impact. Instead of a whole car, a simulated passenger compartment with no doors, wheels, or windows drives on the so-called sled. This sled simulates the forces at work in a real crash. Close to reality. Shortly before the collision, the emergency brake function is activated and changes the seating position of the driver and front passenger. This moment is especially important for Westphal and his team. They check whether everything in the restraint systems, such as seat belts and airbags, is in order or needs to be improved. In addition to the makeup, Westphal also applies the measuring technology, prepares the dummies,
and sets up the cameras to document the whole thing. A camera even rides along in the passenger compartment.
All the others are aligned around the point of impact. "No two tests are the same," Westphal says, smiling. "Each one pushes us forward, so it always