Tuesday, April 14, 2009

TNSTAAFL: Deadly Small Car Edition

WASHINGTONConsumers who buy minicars to economize on fuel are making a big tradeoff when it comes to safety in collisions, according to an insurance group that slammed three minimodels into midsize ones in tests.

The institute concludes that while driving smaller and lighter cars saves fuel, “downsizing and down-weighting is also associated with an increase in deaths on the highway,” said Adrian Lund, the institute’s president.

“It’s a big effect — it’s not small,” he said in a telephone interview.

48 Comments:

At 4/14/2009 8:12 AM, Anonymous Cooper said...

As someone who actually works in the traffic industry I've seen this misconception many times. While, Yes, an individual driving a smaller car, all else being equal is less safe, it is not because the car is designed without safety features.

The main cause of injury or death when a small car gets into a crash is the size of the larger car.

For example, Two cars A and B, A is a typical small car lets say 2,700 lbs and B is a large SUV, 4,500 lbs. The severity of crashes between two car A's vs the severity of crashes between two car B's is actually very similar, but the severity of a crash between an A and a B is very dangerous for the occupants of A and relatively safe for the people in B.

So in my experience its not the size that matters, but the size difference.

 
At 4/14/2009 8:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thats a ridiculous and nonpertinent statement with regard to the issue...small cars are deadly is the point and the size does matter...the size difference is academic...whats your point!

 
At 4/14/2009 8:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's the "law of lugnuts."

The more lugnuts a car or truck has, the safer it is. He's right -- the size difference is what counts in a collision (think of a fly vs. a vehicle).

Small vehicles are deadlier for one reason: there are bigger vehicles on the road.

It's a war out there; best be prepared.

 
At 4/14/2009 8:56 AM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

So we should all be mandated to have little tiny cars?

 
At 4/14/2009 9:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny how the media and the Democrats never mention this when proposing increases in the CAFE standards.

But, hey, what's a few extra bodies when they're saving the world from "global warming". I guess they consider your life, or the life of your loved ones, a small sacrifice to lay on the altar of Gaia.

 
At 4/14/2009 9:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A person in a smaller vehicle (motorcycle, sub-compact, etc) traveling at a normal rate of speed (35 mph) in a collision with a deer or a tree (both of which not concerned with driving laws or safety) will cause greater harm to the occupant(s) of said smaller car than a person in a larger vehicle (full-size mercedes, volvo, buick, suv, etc).

Darwinism cannot be legislated away.

 
At 4/14/2009 9:13 AM, Anonymous Cooper said...

I want to apologize I had an elegant response made before I realized a fundamental mistake. The article is right Size does matter, but Weight often confused with size, is what I should have commented on in my first post so my example stands. If you keep the size and shape the same, but reduce weight, a car is safer in fix object collisions, and same car collisions, but less safe when hit by a car heavier then it. Again my mistake for my last post, guess it’s too early in the morning for me. I made a mistake I admit it.

 
At 4/14/2009 9:16 AM, Anonymous Mika said...

Therefore, if we were all smart enough to choose to drive smaller, more energy efficient vehicles, we will all be safer and save tons of energy while polluting less. Yes, it would be prudent to have incentives that motivate us in that direction.

 
At 4/14/2009 9:24 AM, Anonymous Rand said...

Mr. 0bama wants to put us into the "unsafe at any speed" clown cars while he rides around in a 5 mpg armored limo.

 
At 4/14/2009 9:27 AM, Blogger David said...

It's not feasible to mandate that all vehicles on the road be very small ones, even ignoring the intrusiveness of such legislation. There are *trucks* of various sizes, and in most urban locations there are also buses.

Cars which are lighter, via more use of aluminum or composite materials, but still long enough to have an effective crush zone, do make sense.

 
At 4/14/2009 9:32 AM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

Also lighter vehicles are much more prone to hydroplaning. Ever hear those stories of Geo Metros hydroplaning across the median into oncoming interstate traffic? Scary stuff right there

 
At 4/14/2009 9:33 AM, Anonymous Rand said...

To Anonymous:

In the late '70s I saw a car (a big Chevrolet Impala) that encountered a moose. This was a much larger and heavier car than is made today. It was totaled. The passengers had been hospitalized.

If they had been in a little "unsafe at any speed" clown car - they would have died.

Perhaps a moose is relatively uncommon except in the northernmost states, but deer and cattle and trees and telephone poles are found all over the country.

 
At 4/14/2009 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The size difference is an ADDITIONAL issue.

Small car sare also more deadly even when they are nvolved in collisions with other small cars.

Most accidents involve collsions with stationary objects, anyway.

There is nothing surprising about any of this. It comes down to asking ourseelves how many people we are willing to kill to prevent gobal warming vs how many global warming will kill.

Hydra

 
At 4/14/2009 9:44 AM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

You are quite the utilitarian Hydra

 
At 4/14/2009 10:38 AM, Blogger 1 said...

"Yes, it would be prudent to have incentives that motivate us in that direction"...

Well it seems mika just can't let go of that socialist social engineering paradigm...

I hope you get your wish mika and get yourself a Smart Car...LOL!

"So we should all be mandated to have little tiny cars?"...

No ExtremeHobo you should get a sweet lane changer and take command of the road...:-)

 
At 4/14/2009 10:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Safety Exposes Us to RiskIn the middle of the last century, an aerospace engineer working for Volvo developed the modern, three-point seat belt. Yet even today the safety device’s benefits are not clear-cut, William Ecenbarger writes in Smithsonian magazine. That’s because of people’s tendency toward “risk compensation” — actively taking more risks because they feel more secure. Thus there’s the possibility, Ecenbarger writes, “that some drivers have caused accidents precisely because they were wearing seat belts.”New York Times

 
At 4/14/2009 10:45 AM, Blogger CastoCreations said...

mika...tell me exactly how I'm supposed to haul around four large dogs and a kid in a small so called "Smart" car??? Not to mention my business materials. Let ME decide what I want to drive for my lifestyle. Keep the gov't out of it, thank you very little.

 
At 4/14/2009 10:48 AM, Anonymous jrich said...

It comes down to asking ourseelves how many people we are willing to kill to prevent gobal warming vs how many global warming will kill.I'm assuming by "global warming" you mean "man-made global warming" (a la Al Gore). If that's the case, this is like saying "It comes down to asking ourselves how many people we are willing to kill to stop Santa Claus vs how many people Santa Claus will kill." (Assuming Santa Claus might one day get tired of his annual global jaunt and go postal.)

 
At 4/14/2009 10:49 AM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

Wow thats even better than a Ford Excursion!

 
At 4/14/2009 12:32 PM, Blogger Bloggin' Brewskie said...

As someone who once got hit by a Honda Civic while walking, I can vouch differently. The small car knocked me on top of the hood with minor injuries; a large behemoth will send a pedestrian and his/her head to the asphalt.

Besides that, it’s all a matter of size and physics: a 30-ton tractor-trailer is safe bet against a Chevy Tahoe, not so much against another 30-ton rig.

 
At 4/14/2009 12:51 PM, Blogger bobble said...

“downsizing and down-weighting is also associated with an increase in deaths on the highway,”

so its agreed then. we should all drive Hummers with ten 80 pound sand bags in the back.

 
At 4/14/2009 12:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are right, of course, I meant man made global warming.

The point wasn't to debate whether it is real or not, manmade or not.

The point is that we will make economic trade offs.

As soon as we set a policy that ASSUMES manmade global warming is real, we start putting a price on it, whether man made global warming is real or not.

How many tens of thousands are we willing to kill by (effectively)mandating tiny cars on the assumption that it is less expensive than the assumed alternative of (increased) global warming?

Hydra

 
At 4/14/2009 1:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Also lighter vehicles are much more prone to hydroplaning. "

Depends on the surface area of the tire in contact with the road eleative to the weight. Plus tread considerations.

Front wheel drive vehicles are more subject to hydroplaning, but they are self correcting in that they lose traction and slow down.

Rear wheel drive cars push some of the water out of the way with the front tires, and the rear wheels still have enough traction to push.
However, the front wheels now act more like rudders than wheels.

 
At 4/14/2009 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of saving energy, our government (federal, state, city, local, borough, county, etc) could take some simple steps to reduce energy consumption in this country by TURNING OFF THE DAMN LIGHTS when they leave work at 4:30pm.

Has anyone ever noticed that lights in government buildings remain on at all times? The water treatment plant for Pittsburgh goes as far as to leave the mercury vapor street lamps turned on during daylight hours.

Practice what you preach, that's what *I* say.

 
At 4/14/2009 1:27 PM, Blogger 1 said...

"so its agreed then. we should all drive Hummers with ten 80 pound sand bags in the back"...

No, its NOT agreed...

Those who want the fuel saving skate boards of death should go ahead and buy them...

Then we can watch real time Darwinism works its magic...

 
At 4/14/2009 1:41 PM, Blogger misterjosh said...

If gasoline carried the full burden for vehicular transportation, i.e. roads, war in Iraq, health issues associated with vehicular emissions, etc. then I think we'd all be driving smaller cars.

As to how big our cars should be, you have to admit that there are already limitations on how big a vehicle you can put on the road. For instance, I'm pretty sure most states forbid a tank on local streets. I think we should all have the right to choose.

If gasoline were more appropriately priced, I think our choices would be more prudent, but poor people should choose the car they can afford and risk their lives a little bit while the wealthy will buy a little bit more car and have a little bit more safety.

I'm not advocating an overall increase in taxes, but I think that roads should not be paid for out of general funds(income taxes etc.), but rather something tied to the actual use of the roads.

 
At 4/14/2009 1:54 PM, Blogger LoneSnark said...

I disagree. While bigger is generally safer when hitting other vehicles, it is not a rule. The driver of a 1990 Chevy Blazer would not fare much better in a collision than a 2009 honda civic thanks to clever design.

But there are drawbacks even in a well designed modern SUV. afterall, sometimes you don't want to punch through. Road side railing are only so strong, and if they are keeping your out of control vehicle from going off a cliff, then lighter is better. If you are trying to maneuver to avoid an accident with an 18-wheeler, then lighter and lower to the ground is better.

So, like all issues, we have a pile of bodies on both sides, we need to figure out which pile is higher.

How many SUV owners died because they rolled the vehicle, punched through a guard-rail over a cliff, punched through a guard-rail into oncoming traffic, failed to avoid an accident due to poor steering and breaking ability, or were crushed by poor design?

Is this pile of bodies higher than the pile of bodies that died in compact cars during collisions with SUVs?

 
At 4/14/2009 2:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You think the ONLY reason for the war in Iraq was to protect oil supplies?

If the full cost of the war was amortized in fuel taxes, we would be lobbying to end the war even sooner.

 
At 4/14/2009 2:01 PM, Blogger 1 said...

"If gasoline were more appropriately priced, I think our choices would be more prudent, but poor people should choose the car they can afford and risk their lives a little bit while the wealthy will buy a little bit more car and have a little bit more safety"...

Ahhh but there's good news in this downturn in the economy misterjosh...

Consider the following AP nugget:

Bad Economy Holds Highway Deaths to 1960s Levels"I'm not advocating an overall increase in taxes, but I think that roads should not be paid for out of general funds(income taxes etc.), but rather something tied to the actual use of the roads"...

Well misterjosh there supposedly is a fund which all gasoline and diesel purchaces contribute to via fuel taxes...

Have you heard of the Highway Trust Fund?

Now consider the following from the Heritage Foundation from Sep. of '08: Congress Undermines America's Infrastructure by Looting the Highway Trust Fund

 
At 4/14/2009 2:06 PM, Blogger NoWhining said...

"So, like all issues, we have a pile of bodies on both sides, we need to figure out which pile is higher"

I don't think we do need to figure it out. I agree with the poster above...let me choose to drive what fits my lifestyle best and keep the government (and any other meddlers) out of it. And...let me suffer the consequences of my decision if I make the wrong choice. That should be the new golden rule.

 
At 4/14/2009 2:14 PM, Blogger 1 said...

"If the full cost of the war was amortized in fuel taxes, we would be lobbying to end the war even sooner"...

Funny but how come you lefties say this about the War on Poverty or any of the other horrendously expensive and totally useless socialist nanny state programs?

The war on poverty has cost taxpayers $10 trillion or more since 1964. Medicare, projected at its inception to cost $12 billion in 1990, ended up costing $107 billion that year, and its budget has ballooned even further since then ($325 billion as of fiscal year 2006). Now we have President Bush’s prescription-drug benefit adding to the burden to the tune of tens of billions of dollars annually. Social Security cost taxpayers $544 billion in FY 2006. Hillary Clinton tried once to foist single-payer health insurance on the entire country and has made it clear that she would have proceeded again toward that goal had she been elected president, albeit under a less blatantly socialistic guise; Barack Obama promises the same. Again, who is being selfish: the people who simply want to be allowed to dispose of their own income as they see fit (including donating some of it to charity), or the people who, having sat back and lived off the hard work of others, continually clamor for more and more of others’ money and then whine that the taxpayers are the selfish ones?

 
At 4/14/2009 2:22 PM, Blogger 1 said...

"How many SUV owners died because they rolled the vehicle, punched through a guard-rail over a cliff, punched through a guard-rail into oncoming traffic, failed to avoid an accident due to poor steering and breaking ability, or were crushed by poor design?"...

Interesting excuse but as usual a poor one...

How about the driver using his/her SUV intelligently?

Just a thought...

 
At 4/14/2009 2:51 PM, Blogger Bloggin' Brewskie said...

Wow kids(!), fighting over your big/small toys:)

There's advantages/disadvantages to both: small cars are more fuel-efficient, cheaper, stop quicker, are lower to the ground (thus less likely to flip), but lighter (not good during rainy or snowy conditions) and smaller (watch out for those trucks!); SUVs are heavier (they’re less likely to hydroplane during rainy conditions), drive through snowy conditions better, their size is an advantage (until you meet a vehicle of equal/greater size), eat more gas, generally cost more, and are top-heavy (thus more likely to flip if going around a bend/corner too quickly).

All I can say is I'm glad I face a Civic that day I walking, not a Ford Expedition...

 
At 4/14/2009 2:52 PM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

Also I might add that not all big cars are SUVs.

 
At 4/14/2009 4:38 PM, Blogger Mark said...

I'll never forget the speech. Milton Friedman explaining how the world works to a bunch of mortgage bankers (circa 1979). He put on the board behind him in large capital letters TINSTAAFL. He gave an address for about an hour. It was quintessential Friedman. All about liberty and choices and consequences. I was young and enthralled. Q&A arrived. Lots and lots of questions about monetary policy and the deleterious effects of William Miller and Jimmy "Boy" Carter. Then someone finally asked, "What does TINSTAAFL mean? In his inimitable way, Friedman said, "Why, sir, it explains everything! It is a germanic word." "But, I don't speak German and still don't know what it means," said the questioner. Then, with a Friemanesque twinkle, he said, "There is no such thing as a free lunch!" We all howled with laughter. What a day. What a moment. I'll never forget.

 
At 4/14/2009 6:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The answer is simple: Ban all cars weighing more than 2,000 lbs. Build railways, and force big trucks off the road. The problem isn't that small cars are unsafe - - the problem is that BIG cars are unsafe: BIG CARS KILL PEOPLE IN LITTLE CARS, SMALL CARS DON'T KILL PEOPLE IN BIG CARS.

 
At 4/14/2009 6:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So the party of "choice" wants to give the U.S. citizenry NO choice as to what vehicles to drive.

They will impose by diktat their view on the uniformed masses.

This is democracy in Obamaland? No thanks.

 
At 4/14/2009 6:39 PM, Blogger KauaiMark said...

The solution is simple.

Bring back the horse as the only mode of transportation.

I don't believe that there were any head on collisions riding them. Were there?

 
At 4/14/2009 6:40 PM, Anonymous Dr. T said...

One point I haven't seen mentioned is accident avoidance. Small cars generally are more nimble, allowing the driver to manuever enough to avoid an accident (or choose to go into a ditch instead of having a head-on collision). I've avoided four accidents in my Subaru Legacy GT (3200 pounds) that I could not have avoided in an SUV or our minivan.

Of course, not all drivers are skilled enough to avoid accidents, and some accidents cannot be avoided. In such cases, I'd rather be in a Nissan Armada.

 
At 4/14/2009 8:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell that to the dinosaurs?

 
At 4/14/2009 9:09 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

It's ironic liberals are turning Americans into conservatives, e.g. conserving gasoline, electricity, water, etc.

Also, with state sales taxes rising, Americans will be buying fewer, smaller, and cheaper big ticket items.

 
At 4/14/2009 11:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it wonderful that we all can weigh our values, our vehicle needs, our economic situation and our desire for safety and then choose whatever size vehicle best fits our analysis?

Freedom of choice - it's a wonderful thing!

and freedom to discuss the issue without the government peering over our shoulders - that's pretty neat too.

 
At 4/14/2009 11:04 PM, Blogger Dave Narby said...

50% of all accidents do not involve a second vehicle.

Translation: Half the time you run your silly ass SUV off the road yourself.

 
At 4/15/2009 10:13 AM, Blogger QT said...

50%?

Rear-end, angle or side impact, and head-on collisions account for 60.5% of all car accidents.

 
At 4/15/2009 12:51 PM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

I would much prefer to be in a silly SUV than a smart car if i ran off the road and plowed into a tree.

 
At 4/15/2009 4:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Funny but how come you lefties say this about the War on Poverty or "

What makes you think I'm a lefty?

All I was saying was that really high gas prices would incentivise people to want to end the war, if gas prices were tied to war costs.

Where is the left or right in that? Incentives work.

Hydra

 
At 4/15/2009 9:27 PM, Blogger 1 said...

"the problem is that BIG cars are unsafe: BIG CARS KILL PEOPLE IN LITTLE CARS, SMALL CARS DON'T KILL PEOPLE IN BIG CARS"...

LOL! People in little cars deserve it because they were dumb enough to buy little cars... Its that old Darwinism thing at work...
========================

"All I was saying was that really high gas prices would incentivise people to want to end the war, if gas prices were tied to war costs.

Where is the left or right in that? Incentives work
"...

Oh my! Why you don't even know what you are... Incentives indeed you funny socialist...ROFLMAO!

You want to tie the price of fuel to a war, how about tying to that other socialist failure, the war on poverty?

The longer that scam goes on, the cheaper the gasoline should be...

 
At 4/16/2009 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ExtremeHobo said...

I would much prefer to be in a silly SUV than a smart car if i ran off the road and plowed into a tree.

Sorry, E.H., but basic physics says you're wrong. A vehicle that weighs twice as much hits the tree twice as hard. Net: no difference.

The answer is to weld a steel plate onto my Hummer. Then I can kill people in Hummers, and save myself. Except that they'll weld *two* steel plates instead, so they can kill me. But not to be outdone, I'll weld *three* steel plates on mine, so I can kill Hummers that only have two plates.....Say, isn't this how the animals with gigantic antlers went extinct?

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home