August 20, 2007

Small Cars Can Kill You

The gas prices of this summer and the people that feel everyone should
drive small vehicles are pushing congress to do something about it.

Congress is trying to push through unrealistic gas mileage increases with
the auto industry saying they are not possible unless they make vehicles
lighter, which will make them unsafe
. Congress and environmentals are
saying that the auto industry is making up these claims and trying to
frighten people.

Americans are buying more small cars to cut fuel costs, and that might kill them. As a group, occupants of small cars are more likely to die in crashes than those in bigger, heavier vehicles are, according to data from the government, the insurance industry and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

As you will note, none of those agencies has anything to do with the
auto industry.

The newest small vehicles, of course, meet today's strict safety standards and can be laden with the latest safety hardware, such as stability control and side air bags. They are safer than ever. And differing designs mean some small cars are safer than average. But even the safest are governed by the laws of physics, which rule in favor of bigger, heavier vehicles, even in single-vehicle crashes.

All those safety measures in vehicles now a days is giving people a
false sense of security.

"I did take safety into account, which is why I wanted to be sure the car has side and head-curtain air bags," says Karen Jennings, 39, a saleswoman in Chattanooga, Tenn.

She's shopping for a replacement for her 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier
small car. She's restricted her search to small cars because she's
short, 5-foot-2, and believes that small cars "are a little cheaper
to run, less expensive to buy."

She's unconcerned about small cars' relatively poor safety record
because of the available air bags and because "I'm a very defensive
driver
. I haven't had an accident in 20-some years of driving."

Dey, the nurse in Santa Barbara, also cites safety hardware:
"It seems like every car I look at has at least six air bags."

Often heard is that small cars' agility lets them avoid crashes.
But the NAS report found no data to back that up.

Two things, I am a very defensive driver also but that hasn't stopped
the asshats that have hit me while I was stopped at lights.

Also, I have talked with my insurance dude about side curtain airbags
and he said that insurance industry doesn't offer discounts for side
airbags (like they do for driver/passenger airbags) because the data
has not shown the side airbags are as beneficial as the driver/passenger
airbags.

Lund was on an NAS panel that examined potential safety impacts and other consequences of stricter fuel-economy regulations. The panel's report, published in 2002, noted that there are safe, cost-effective ways to boost mileage, but cutting the size and weight of vehicles is not one of them. Years of statistics show that small cars "are involved in more collisions than larger vehicles," and "Small vehicles have higher fatality rates than larger ones," the NAS report said.

Guess congress hasn't seen this data, because they keep insisting that
cutting weight out of vehicles for better mileage won't change a thing.

The facts to back up the smaller the vehicle the higher chance of you
dying:

A driver is up to twice as likely to die in a small car as in a midsize, just one step up the size scale, according to IIHS data. A 2003 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report showed similar results.
Small cars can be made safer, but that can boost the price and cut the mileage, undermining the reasons for buying a small car in the first place.

"One of the safest vehicles is the VW Jetta, and it's a relatively
small vehicle. VW has designed it very carefully and charges for
it," says Marc Ross, professor emeritus in the physics department
at the University of Michigan. He's written a number of papers on
small cars and safety.

Volkswagens, in general, he says, "tend to be safe, but they are
heavier and get lower fuel economy. If you improve safety, you make
a vehicle heavier, at least with today's technology."

I know your saying, but it's SUV's crashing into small cars that is
the problem ... um yeah right

The deadly potential of small cars isn't, as many people presume, because SUVs crash into them. Just one of every 11 people 9% who died in small cars died as the result of collisions with SUVs, NHTSA data show.

But, but, but, if everyone drove small cars it wouldn't be an issue ..

By contrast, 53% of small-car deaths in 2005 involved only small cars. Either a single small car crashed into something such as a guardrail or tree or two small cars crashed into each other, according to the NHTSA data.

(all emphasis mine)

Posted by Quality Weenie at August 20, 2007 09:46 AM | TrackBack
Comments

That's why I drive an SUV, though I'd love to zip around in a little sports car again. It's simply the law of physics: big things smush little things. The end.

I understand wanting to save on gas, but I won't do it at the possible cost of my or my family's death. Not worth it.

Posted by: pam at August 20, 2007 10:13 AM

A-fricken-men.

I was gonna write that.
You've spared me the work. :)

Posted by: _Jon at August 23, 2007 02:37 PM