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The Physics Behind Car Crashes

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the drive-a-tank dept.

Science 732

Guinnessy writes "Physics Today has an article on Vehicle Design and the Physics of Traffic Safety. The article analyzes in detail typical crashes experienced between cars, and cars with SUVs'. According to Marc Ross, Deena Patel, and Tom Wenzel, "The evidence is compelling that body-on-frame light trucks cannot safely coexist with passenger cars under existing conditions. That problem is critical because so many light trucks are used nowadays as car substitutes." They suggest some ways in which both cars and SUVs' can be redesigned to improve safety. Meanwhile Detriot News reports on a Pediatrics journal study says that claims that children are no safer in SUVs than cars because of the rollover risks."

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I reckon.. (5, Funny)

DeathByDuke (823199) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399031)

..that one of their findings was that cars dont explode upon slightly touching each other!

Re:I reckon.. (4, Insightful)

Indy Media Watch (823624) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399250)

That only happens to American cars which will always explode in a ball of flames, but not until the hero can pull the important passengers to safety, and yell, "Watch out! She's gonna blow!"

Re:I reckon.. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399259)

..that one of their findings was that cars dont explode upon slightly touching each other!

Well, really that depends on whether one considers the Ford Pinto to be a 'car' or not.

weight& speed are the big issue here (3, Insightful)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399041)

you don't have to be Einstein to remember that e=mv^2, and that if you want to reduce the damage to you, yours and the occupants of other vehicles you keep your speed down and your vehicle weight down.


Driving fast in an SUV loaded with kids is about as unresponsible as it gets, I see it quite often though...


Re:weight& speed are the big issue here (2, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399058)

Huh? e=mc^2, where c is the speed of light, a constant. I do believe you are talking about the equation for momentum, which is mv(mass times velocity) ie increasing either mass or velocity raises you momentum linearly.....

You're both wrong. or right. (5, Informative)

tabrisnet (722816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399075)

KE = (m/2)*v^2

or the more common form: KE = 1/2mv^2

This incidentally does make it in the same class as E=m*c^2 (due to magnitude/exponentiation) but that's more or less irrelevant.

Re:You're both wrong. or right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399128)

To be even more pedantic, KE = (gamma - 1)*mc^2, where gamma = 1/(1-(v/c)^2)^0.5

When v is far less than c, it is roughly the same as KE = 0.5*mv^2

Re:weight& speed are the big issue here (1, Insightful)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399101)

I learned the old school stuff like F=ma.

Also, from the GP that says "keep your speed down and your vehicle weight down".

I would rather be in a fully loaded 18 wheeler going 100 MPH than in a Honda Prelude sitting still.

Now with the SUVs not being any safer for kids, the same is true with antilock breaks. They are both better at reducing injuries in not so hazardous situations, but both are more likely to kill you in serious situations.

Re:weight& speed are the big issue here (2, Insightful)

rikkards (98006) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399109)

They are both better at reducing injuries in not so hazardous situations, but both are more likely to kill you in serious situations.


It is true for the people in your car probably having less injuries when yours has the largest Mass but the question remains of what is the impact when an SUV hits another SUV? Are you still as safe as hitting a car?

Re:weight& speed are the big issue here (4, Informative)

i_should_be_working (720372) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399124)

Whoever is in the car that undergoes the largest acceleration is worse off. Since mass is by definition the resistance to acceleration, the ones in the larger car win. If two equal mass cars collide they both undergo the same acceleration. Ignoring car vs SUV strength, if two cars have a head-on collision at 30mph, the people inside are just as well off (or just as injured) as if it were two SUVs.

Re:weight& speed are the big issue here (5, Insightful)

owen_b2 (660177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399166)

the same is true with antilock breaks

Since when? Are you alluding to the misconception that a good driver can stop faster without ABS than an average driver with? With modern ABS this just isnt true anymore, even if you're a rally driver.

And ABS systems let an average driver steer their car in a heavy-braking-potential-skid situation, where the non-abs car will be skidding in an uncontrolled straight line. How many drivers are taught cadence braking these days?

Re:weight& speed are the big issue here (2, Informative)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399228)

Since when? Are you alluding to the misconception that a good driver can stop faster without ABS than an average driver with?

No, I am alluding to the fact that antilock brakes keep you from skidding which increases your likelihood of flipping your car which is much more fatal than skidding into something.

Antilock brakes are best at reducing the most common and least serious of accidents -- rear end collisions. They simply do not help in dangerous high velocity situations, in fact they are more dangerous.

Re:weight& speed are the big issue here (1)

gonk (20202) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399241)

Antilock brakes are best at reducing the most common and least serious of accidents -- rear end collisions. They simply do not help in dangerous high velocity situations, in fact they are more dangerous.

Please explain how are they more dangerous.

robert

Re:weight& speed are the big issue here (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399062)

I like to drive at 100mph. If everyone drove at least 98mph then it's just a risk of a 2mph collision. The higher speed uses gas faster and reduces the vehicle weight. :P

Re:weight& speed are the big issue here (1)

my $anity 0 (917519) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399084)

That only applies to crashing into someone in front of or in back of you. If you crash into someone with a car of the same mass head-on, the effective collision is 198mph. Which is going to involve flames and death. Plenty of flames and death.

Tolls = Death + Injury (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399066)

Here in Australia, in Sydney, they are converting highway to parking spaces, and do things to cause forseeable death and public injury's so as to discourage toll-avoiders.

When you narrow roads from 3 lanes to one lane - and you have a SUV in front of you, visiblity turns to shit, people do unwise things.

Rather than tax vehicles on weight, they should tax on overall vehicles on 1/2 MV^2.

Re:weight& speed are the big issue here (1)

my $anity 0 (917519) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399067)

e is proportional to mass and the square of the velocity, however... kinetic energy = one-half mass times velocity squared KE=1/2mv^2 This does not detract from your argument, however force (mass times acceleration) momentum (mass times velocity) and impulse (change in momentum) figure in here too.

Re:weight& speed are the big issue here (4, Informative)

i_should_be_working (720372) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399114)

As others have pointed out, this has nothing to do with E=mc^2.

In addition, in a large vehicle the conservation of momentum is on your side. It's not the crash that kills you it's the sudden acceleration (your body going from 30 to 0 mph in a second). But if your vehicle doesn't change velocity much (because of its large mass, mass==resistance to acceleration) then you're fine. The other guy dies. That's why there don't have to be seat belts on buses (though it would still be a good idea). If a bus crashes into something, it's probably not going to stop very fast.

Large mass is not why TFA says SUV's are dangerous, it's because they tip over.

Re:weight& speed are the big issue here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399127)

1) Momentum is commonly represented a P=mv^2, not e.
2) Kinetic Energy is KE=(1/2)mv^2
3) Qualify your advice! In crashes against non-deformable barriers, yes keep your speed and weight down. In crashes against other cars, you want to be in the heavier car. Quite obviously having greater mass means more capacity to absorb crash energy.

Re:weight& speed are the big issue here (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399148)

The special relativity formulation is E=gamma*m*c^2, where gamma = 1/sqrt(1-v^2/c^2), v is velocity of the object, and c is the speed of light.

Re:weight& speed are the big issue here (3, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399158)

And you don't have to be an Einstein to know that kinetic energy isn't what kills people, it's the sudden stop that does. If I jump out of an airplane and atain terminal velocity, but deploy a parashoot I'm a lot safer than jumping out of a tree. The point is that if all that extra weight is put into engineering stronger cars that absorb the impact and slow you down more gradually then you're going to be more likely to survive a crash.

That's not to say that SUVs are safer than normal cars. The rollover risks aren't trivial. Personally I think SUVs should be banned, or at least put into some special category of business only use because of the safety risks they put on other cars. The SUV craze is literally killing more people and making driving for everyone else less safe, and this article proves it.

Re:weight& speed are the big issue here (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399202)

So when that train going 100 mph hits that parked Yugo the train is in really deep shit.

e does not kill. a does. Think hard about I.

KFG

get some priorities! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399043)

Ariel Sharon is dying [bbc.co.uk] and you guys are talking about the physics behind car crashes?! You people disgust me!

Re:get some priorities! (-1, Offtopic)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399049)

ariel sharon is personally responsible for the death of a lot of people, I'm not a believer, so this is probably biased, but for his sake I hope there is no god.


Re:get some priorities! (3, Funny)

radja (58949) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399064)

ok then. let's have a party.

Re:get some priorities! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399254)

"That's what old people do, they die."

Builders wagon (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399044)


funny how driving a builders wagon became fashionable, perhaps milk floats are next, or even a dustcart !, we can only live in hope

Physics of car crashes aren't intuitive. (5, Interesting)

danamania (540950) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399046)

I'm reminded of an accident I almost saw several years ago. It was at an intersection where the east/west road had right of way, and the north/south road had a Stop sign. I was in a friend's shop at the time, and we heard a V8 accelerating hard, then a sudden very loud *thud*.

Running outside, we saw from the accident that a 1970s V8 Statesman with a P Plate (here, drivers get P plates to tack on their car for the first few years they're driving on their own) had obviously gone through the stop sign and hit the driver's side of a Prelude driven by an elderly driver. The young guy in the statesman was taken off to hospital, but a rescue team was needed to pull the driver out of the Prelude. Later that night the news had a piece about the accident, saying that the p-plater had caused an accident that killed the elderly guy. Even witnesses at the scene said they heard the V8 go through the intersection far too fast, and hit the prelude.

Then the next night, video shot from inside a building nearby showed the accident - the P-plater had actually stopped at a pedestrian crossing, let the people walk across, then accelerated quickly & noisily... but he was actually moving along the east/west road with right of way. It was the driver in the prelude that had gone through the stop sign at high speed, and the young fellow was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and hit the driver's side of the prelude hard - both cars went spinning around in an impossible looking way, ending up in a position that looked for all the world like the young fellow had gone through the stop sign, even though in this case the only thing he'd done 'wrong' was make a big ol' noise in first gear. My "obvious" guess at who was in the wrong was completely off.

There's a massive amount of energy in a car collision, more than most people would expect given how much we take moving a tonne or two of steel from one place to another daily.

Re:Physics of car crashes aren't intuitive. (2, Interesting)

scolbe (236243) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399086)

There's a massive amount of energy in a car collision, more than most people would expect given how much we take moving a tonne or two of steel from one place to another daily.


well the best way to drive home just how much energy it takes to move a car is mandantary push starts(and pushing it downhill is cheating).

Re:Physics of car crashes aren't intuitive. (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399098)

So basically what you've got here, is two incompetants that cannot drive properly. One couldn't bring the car into motion competantly, and the other was unable to obey one of the most basic rules of the road.

I see these guys that lurch their cars into motion and heave them around corners at unreasonable speeds. I've also seen feckless individuals with complete disregard for stop signs, right of way and even indicators. Both irritate me no end. Quite frankly it secretly delights me when I see these stereotypes involved in collisions with one another, because I know that after that "accident", everyone around me is now actually safer in their cars.

Of course they had lives, families, etc, etc. But look. I'm not their babysitter. They knew exactly what they were doing, took a risk that they would be involved in a crash, and got involved in a crash. My sympathy for them only extends so far.

Of course when other, completely innocent people get slammed into by one of these incompetants, I'm not so much sympathetic as I am completely enraged. Usually these guys will have the nerve to blame in on the otehr driver, for not being quick enogh to get out of the way. I would throttle them, but that woul make _me_ the bad guy.

Of course, most of these incompetants are male, and since I am male, this only adds insult to injury as my car insurance soars to levels at which I simply cannot afford to drive at all. This despite the fact that I've make considerable efforts to drive considerately and safely. I really can't help how I was born, but these guys can help the way they drive. Nevertheless, because most of these incompetants will break their bank to start dangerously driving before I do, by the time I begin to drive in earnest, their insurance will be lower than mine. thus I end up subsidising their bad habits.

I for one, sincerly hope that their are more victimless accidents like the one you describe. In fact, there should be a new law that states anyone can run a red light or a stop sign in they simply remove their side impact safety systems. I think that would work out just fine.

Yes this post is sarcastic, but bitterly so.

Re:Physics of car crashes aren't intuitive. (2, Insightful)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399163)

I'm learning to drive, and people who treat indicators as an optional extra are nothing more than life threatening. It's difficult enough for me to try keep tabs on everything I should be doing, what other people are doing, and what the road markings tell me to do without some asshole merging lanes without indicating.

As for the mostly males involved in crashes, it's the same statistical nonsense as mostly red cars are involved in crashes. It's simply because there are more males on the road to be driving dangerously. Insurance for me (18yo Male, learning to drive) is phenominal even on a low power car. Fortunately I plan to do a Pass Plus (An extra test for additional road skills) so it should drop, but your comment about subsidising the idiots still holds true even then.

Re:Physics of car crashes aren't intuitive. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399231)

It's simply because there are more males on the road to be driving dangerously.

It's not simply. Nothing is ever simply because of one reason, and anyone trying to tell you there's one reason for *anything* is trying to push a political point or sell you something. Males are injured at a phenomenally high rate in cars, and in Australian statistics they are the cause of (and are involved in) around 80 to 85% of all car accidents.

Yet they only drive 54% of the miles driven. There's more to it than just more males on the road.

It's a little like the often-quoted "young people don't drive worse, it's just that there are more young drivers on the road than older drivers so we're involved in more accidents". It's an illogical excuse made up by young drivers who ignore the fact that the stats don't say "more young drivers cause road accidents" but "young drivers have a higher risk of causing road accidents"

Re:Physics of car crashes aren't intuitive. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399257)

I would like to point out some things about older cars. I hope this doesn't disrupt your glee in their injuries too much. I have a 72 Mach 1 Mustang with a 429 in it. Big ol heavy loud car. Older cars like that often don't come off the line like the modern plasticy cars. There have been times where a thin sheet of ice on the road causes me to fishtail a little starting at an intersection...by letting off the brake. No accel and I am already fishtailing a little. It generally does not take a whole lot of pressure to get cars like that to jump a little and make alot of noise, even without being considered reckless. Further the parent said the video showed him stopping at a crosswalk, which leads me even more to believe his driving is more likely to be a case of physics rather than irresponsibility. As for the elderly person, I certainly don't think they should have been on the road, but some states have never ending licenses, and others just require you to sign the dotted line to keep one. But to rant about him disobeying signs is innane and childish. He honestly probably missed it and it cost him his life. I know in unfamiliar parts of town I have missed various signs because they have been placed in odd positions or near other obstructions. I highly doubt you have NEVER missed a sign or anything else on the road EVER, so gleefully ranting about how you are glad is pathetic. Maybe your story will change when you miss something, get hit, hit some black ice and go into a tree, or some other purely accidental (gee I wonder why its called a...) accident, and lose a family member, or even your own life. Grow up.

Re:Physics of car crashes aren't intuitive. (2, Funny)

Tim Browse (9263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399285)

I would throttle them, but that would make _me_ the bad guy.

Ha. That made this pop into my head:

"Ironic, isn't it Smithers? This anonymous clan of slack-jawed troglodytes has cost me the election. And yet, if I were to have them killed, I would be the one to go to jail. That's democracy for you."

Mr Burns, of course :-)

Re:Physics of car crashes aren't intuitive. (4, Interesting)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399156)

I've seen pictures of a crash involving a Renault Megane, and a Hummer H2. The H2 ran through a red light and got cokebottled by the Megane. So - SUV versus small European MPV. Sounds like no contest, right?

Damn Straight.

The Megane was very severely damaged, with the driver and front passenger sustaining some injuries, mainly limited to cuts from glass and severe bruising. The passenger hit her head on a bent bit of A-pillar.

The H2 was *destroyed*. The impact knocked it on its side, and pushed the gearbox and transfer box through the floor and out through the roof. The chassis was split in two from about the middle up to the front crossmember.
I suppose I don't need to draw any pictures of what this did to the four occupants.

Re:Physics of car crashes aren't intuitive. (1)

Zephiria (941257) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399194)

I guess.. That this is what happens when you have EU based Saftey regulations for car design... maybe you guys in the states shoudl strap some body onto a renalt and ship them off in place of some of the hummers ? (i joke i joke :) i know you guys in the military recive much better vehicles then the civilian versions )

Have you seen their most recent ad? (2, Interesting)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399236)

I thought it was hilarious: Renault TV [renaulttv.co.uk] . Sorry, it's a Flash application: click on the sausage on the lower-left part. They don't destroy a hamburger (or hotdog) though ;-) On that site they claim that it's a viral ad. Hmmm, don't think so: I saw it on (German) TV.

Re:Physics of car crashes aren't intuitive. (1)

danamania (540950) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399277)

That's another expression of the weirdness in car accidents. Sometimes the strongest part of what looks to be the weaker car will collide with the exact weakest part of the big car, and *bang*, You have impossible looking situations that are just the product of engineering, as much as a straight head-on collision that most of us have seen.

Another curious one was an accident where my mother went through an intersection in her 1971 Falcon, and a smaller (much newer) Nissan went through the red light to her left. The cars hit, and the damage to them was kinda expected - both cars written off, the Falcon just crumpled at the front and the Nissan station wagon being driven by a pregnant woman, with a male passenger and three kids in the back seat was ripped open from one end to the other, with the whole right side of it tossed across the intersection with people spilled out on the ground.

And nobody had anything more than minor cuts & bruising. Luck hey!

I'm sure paramedics could recount many stories like that, and the opposite too, where tiny innocuous looking accidents result in multiple deaths.

Re:Physics of car crashes aren't intuitive. (4, Informative)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399281)

I find that hard to believe, but even if it's true, it's hardly representative of most SUV vs. passenger car crashes. It's just not. Perhaps the H2 is just poorly constructed in terms of side-impact protection or something, I can't say since I'm not familiar with it, but imagine that same collision occurring head-on. It barely matters what equipment each car has, because the H2, having much more mass, is going to decelerate much less violently. It's just not going to experience as serious a collision as the smaller car will.

There are many studies which support this (besides TFA), and I've personally seen (as an EMT) some really hideous SUV/Car collisions, and can tell you: the SUV usually wins. Sometimes there are mitigating factors, like the SUV will roll over and throw out and crush anyone that's not seat-belted, while the car will basically stay in one place, but if you have the choice between being in a Honda Civic and a GMC Suburban with similar safety equipment when they run into each other, you'd be insane not to pick the Suburban. Plus, the increased size of the car makes it likely that you'll get extricated from the vehicle a lot faster (again, assuming no rollover).

The biggest problem with SUVs, traditionally and still, is that they tend to roll over during hard panic maneuvers, or when hit from the side. Where I used to live, the biggest risk was people driving them too fast for conditions (no, your SUV does not mean you can drive on ice) and laying them over -- generally nonfatal though. But in a straightforward front-end or rear-end collision, there's something to be said for surrounding yourself with several thousand extra pounds of steel. Granted, you get that advantage at the expense of the person in the smaller car, and you have to be more careful taking it around a corner, but it's there nonetheless.

European car security (5, Interesting)

sucker_muts (776572) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399050)

The newest european cars nowadays come with an extra protection agains collisions with pedestrians: The hood in front of the car is lifted a few inches after 40 or so milliseconds so the pedestrian gets lifted as well and won't get run over by the car but lands on the softer hood and might hit the car glass.

The powertrain generally takes up considerable space in the engine compartment, leaving little room between the engine and the bonnet.
To remedy this, the C6 comes with an active bonnet system as standard that automatically raises the bonnet in the event of pedestrian impact. Thanks to an impact sensor and pyrotechnic mechanism, the bonnet rises 65 mm in 40 milliseconds. A second mechanism maintains the bonnet in its raised position despite the impact and thus absorbs the deformation energy.


Example from Citroen. [citroen.com]

Re:European car security (1)

Don_dumb (927108) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399092)

Unfortunately for me (usually a pedestrian), cars wont get sold on the safety of the car for pedestrians. People might buy a car because it makes them safer, I dont think many people are going to buy a car because it makes others safer.

While that is mostly true (2, Insightful)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399136)

Increases in that sort of safety may decrease insurance premiums which may make people consider them more. It probably won't be a major consideration though but such features do tend to become more standard over time.

Re:European car security (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399096)

The goal of this safety feature isn't to influence where the pedestrian hits the car but how. By the time the pedestrian hits the hood, it must already be lifted. Then it provides an extra few inches of collapsible zone before the weight of the pedestrian meets the innards of the engine compartment, thereby tremendously reducing the maximum force of impact and risk of injury to the pedestrian.

This Is Genius! (3, Funny)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399134)

The hood in front of the car is lifted a few inches after 40 or so milliseconds so the pedestrian gets lifted as well and won't get run over by the car but lands on the softer hood and might hit the car glass.

Wow! That's great! Now instead of plebs getting messily caught in my undercarraige, they'll just hit the bonnet and windshield and bounce right off! I can just turn on the sprinklers and wash the blood right off while I sip on my latte! This is genius!

The only downside I can think of is that they may be inconsiderately be wearing metallic objects that might scratch my paintjob. That's a serious issue with this system. Perhaps it would be better if they were bumped to the side instead, preferably to the sidewalk, as that way they wouldn't fly into any oncoming drivers, thus exacerabting the problem.

Re:This Is Genius! (2, Informative)

10Ghz (453478) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399249)

The idea is pretty simple. When the bonnet raises, there's more room to absorb the impact-energy. Earlier, the only things absorbing the energy were the metal on the bonnet and engine, and the bones in the pedestrian. With this system, the bonnet can absorb more of the impact-energy, sparing the pedestrian.

Here [euroncap.com] is the EURO-NCAP test-report for Citroen C6. As it happens, it's the first car to achieve the maximum score for pedestrian safety.

Well, that settles it then... (5, Funny)

shmlco (594907) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399051)

"The evidence is compelling that body-on-frame light trucks cannot safely coexist with passenger cars..."

Well, that settles it then. It's obvious we need to outlaw passenger cars. Not only will that remove millions of unsafe cars from the road, it will give a much needed economic boost to the SUV manufacturers.

Besides, if a car is unsafe around a light body truck, it must be a death trap around a standard truck or a semi-tractor trailer rig...

Re:Well, that settles it then... (2, Insightful)

blueturffan (867705) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399189)

"The evidence is compelling that body-on-frame light trucks cannot safely coexist with passenger cars..."
Strangely, a body-on-frame light truck has been safely coexisting with a (subcompact) passenger car in my garage for the past two years. Amazingly, they both go out and coexist with all other vehicles on the roadway, ranging from bicycles to 18 wheelers, without incident.

I find it amusing when the vehicle is blamed rather than the operator.

Re:Well, that settles it then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399209)

That's like saying "Why blame C? It's the programmer who writes programs with buffer overflows!" Accidents happen. No amount of trying to avoid them will change that. Then you want the vehicle to be designed with safety in mind.

Re:Well, that settles it then... (5, Funny)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399234)

"I find it amusing when the vehicle is blamed rather than the operator.

I agree. Seatbelts ought to be BANNED and a large spike pointing at the drivers chest should be fitted on the steering column. Not only would it make people drive really safely, it would cut down on motoring.

Re:Well, that settles it then... (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399244)

Well, certain vehicle designs lend themselves to more harmful accidents. You can't prevent accidents completely--that's why they're called accidents. But atleast you can design vehicles to minimize the risks in the case of a collision. By your argument, we shouldn't have seatbelts, and there's nothing wrong with a car that explodes when involved in a side-collision. I mean, don't blame the car, blame the driver right?

Canyonero! (3, Funny)

Life700MB (930032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399068)


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Canyonero! Canyonero!

Top of the line in utility sports,
Unexplained fires are a matter for the courts!

Canyonero! Canyonero! (Yah!)

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Chinese SUV (5, Interesting)

lovebyte (81275) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399076)

I don't know for the USA, but a chinese SUV is being imported into Europe and it received a 0 rating for safety [timesonline.co.uk] .
So be careful! If you see one on the road, stay well clear.

Re:Chinese SUV (4, Funny)

bobdotorg (598873) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399111)

Overheard at a cafe in Stockholm:

Volvo Engineer: But your SUV is so dangerous - it has no crumple zones.

Chinese Car Salesman: Silly Swede. You Volvo my crumple zone.

Re:Chinese SUV (4, Informative)

10Ghz (453478) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399282)

Actually, looking at the videos and pictures of the Landwind crash-test, it becomes quite obvious that the whole car is one big crumple-zone. The car seems to simply disintegrate.

See for yourself [paultan.org]

Re:Chinese SUV (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399142)

""This car seems to belong in the 1990s in terms of engineering,""

As someone who drives a 1990s car, which replaced a 1980s car which was designed in the 1970s, that doesn't sound too bad to me...

Of course if it's anything like the asian 4x4 I rented one time when my car was being fixed (asked for a smaller car but that was all they had left when I got there to pick it up), they won't be able to go fast enough to do much damage in a crash without rolling the thing.

Re:Chinese SUV (1)

TeleoMan (529859) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399204)

It's called the JiangLing Landwind so whaddya expect?

Personally, I'm waiting for next year's DingaLing Roverstorm. Maybe it'll get the coveted 1 rating.

Re:Chinese SUV (2, Funny)

Zephiria (941257) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399240)

Did you ever consider, that this might have been a selling point to the chinese goverment when the company went to them ? Think about it.. Stylish.. modern, american looking, AND it helps reduce the population!

Re:Chinese SUV (1)

DZign (200479) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399251)

Seems they import now an 'improved' version which should be as safe as an Opel Frontera.
Exactly how safe the Frontera is, is not said :-)

Re:Chinese SUV (1)

Zephiria (941257) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399275)

http://www.euroncap.com/content/safety_ratings/det ails.php?id1=9&id2=125 [euroncap.com] thats the link for the NCAP tests, basically for those lazy or waiting to load, 3 stars for passengers and 1 for the pedestrians :( Test Scores: Front 5 (31%) Side 16 (89%) Overall 21 (62%) Pedestrian 2 (6%) still.. better then before but no way i would get in one.. That said might be better then walking near one...

Why Chinese SUV has 0 Safety? (1)

mynickwastaken (690966) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399286)

They try to reduce the number of the population, there in China.
I would call it: artificial selection

Re:Chinese SUV (1)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399294)

So be careful! If you see one on the road, stay well clear.
The added safety risk lies in the fact that the JiangLing Landwind is likely to even kill the people inside it in an accident.

Accidents with all SUVs have increased risk levels for innocent bystanders so your line should be: "If you see any SUV on the road, stay well clear." Any which way you put it, the line is more an emotion than anything else.

PDF warnings (2, Informative)

simpsone (830935) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399083)

Hows about a warning of some sort about the pdf lurking behind the first link there? Maybe a little something in parentheses would do.

Re:PDF warnings (1)

porlw (169848) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399133)

I recommend the TargetAlert [mozilla.org] extension.

Re:PDF warnings (1)

beef3k (551086) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399262)

Warning! A PDF is lurking behind the first link there!

And Mazda Miatas (1)

Zog The Undeniable (632031) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399090)

can't safely coexist with anything, but I still love mine.

Re:And Mazda Miatas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399233)

Think you're Mazda is unsafe? I've got a Ninja. Although, being able to still drive while the rest of the freeway is a parking lot more than makes up for it.

People will always buy an auto they feel safe in (4, Interesting)

fantomas (94850) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399091)

People are always going to consider their own selfish personal safety as a purchasing factor when choosing a road vehicle; for many people this is a very significant issue, and is played upon by advertising for autos.

We need to focus on methods of ensuring safety that don't threaten other road users: win-win situations rather than soccer moms driving trucks and declaring "I know I will win in a collision" (vaguely remembered quote from a National Geographic article on SUVs). This can only lead to a sort of arms war where we all end up driving 38 tonne truck rigs....I was particularly scared by the picture of the SUV built on what is effectively a couple of forward facing railroad rails - that's going to hurt if you're hit side on in a little compact by one of those.

The annoying thing is I am sure most of the safety issues can be solved with little cost and by improving social as well as technological aspects of road use, e.g. severely enforcing low speed limits round residential areas. As long as its cool to drive like a bastard people will.

I always like the story about how there were a lot of fatal accidents in early autos because of the bolt protruding in the middle of early steering wheels, head on crashes meant drivers suffering lots of chest damage; while this was then changed to make life safer, it's been pointed out that if there was a big spike compulsorily welded onto the middle of all steering wheels pointing at drivers then everybody would drive a whole lot more carefully and there would be a lot less accidents.....

Re:People will always buy an auto they feel safe i (5, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399299)

The SUV craze is actually the same phenomenon as the crowded theater phenomenon (where someone stands up to get a better view, so soon everyone is standing to see at all, and no one sees any better than when they were sitting). The idea is "If my vehicle is heavier than the other guy's, then in an accident I'll be in better shape than him." End result: Everyone will go out and get a bigger vehicle, because it appears that will make them better off, and as a result no one is safer.

Of course, the heavier vehicles always create a false sense of security. Trucks and large vehicles are more prone to rollovers, can't stop or swerve easily to avoid trouble, and hit stationary objects with more momentum. But like Homeland Security or MS Windows, it makes you feel safe, so people choose to go with it even if the facts are completely against them.

Really your best defense while driving is to actually use everything you learned in Driver's Ed, or if you don't remember than find books or classes on safe driving. And if there are any teenagers reading this, remember that Driver's Ed is the one class most likely to determine at some point whether you survive a situation. You know, driving at reasonable speeds (somewhere around the speed limit is usually good), slowing down before you take corners, being aware of the drivers around you, good signalling so other drivers are aware of you, etc.

hehe (1)

Danzigism (881294) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399104)

i always disliked seeing little tiny white women driving Ford Excursions, while talking on their cell phone, probably to a man that she's having an affair with, as I stare at the little soccer ball sticker on the back windshield.. lemme tell ya.. i feel really safe with these bastards on the road.. people are so god damn caught up with the "social status" factor of vehicles.. i certainly don't give a fuck about what kinda car you drive.. but i will give a fuck if you sit there and waste my gas, kill my environment and other people driving on the roads just because of your social status complex..

On SUV safety (5, Interesting)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399139)

Funny thing anout SUV's. They really are a hazard. Not only is the center of gravity higher, but they usually have misdesigned suspension (Ford Exploder, Mitsubishi Montero) that actually encourages rolling over, SUV's have higher bumpers, so cars running into them slide under, killing the occupants in the lower car. SUV's use more gas and cause more pollution. A very big problem is roof crush. SUV roofs are notorious for being frail and crushing in a roll over accident, squishing the people inside.

I for one don't like the idea of dying by having my spinal column driven into my skull.

Many of these things of course could be mitigated. There could be a standard lane change test to determine suspension quality, there could be rules on the center of gravity, there could be rules on bumper height (like on regular cars) and there could be rules on pollution, perheps making all SUV's except the kind with frugal modern common rail diesel engines (with particle filters) financially impposible to own/buy.

But this is not the case. Infact, with GM and to some extent Ford in financial trouble (and with all their profits coming from SUV's) the current US administration wil do nothing about the laws, that infact make SUV's above the law.

Right now, SUV's are excempt from current fuel efficiency laws (that are not very good in the first place, mind you), they are excempt from bumper laws (making SUV's lousy and expensive to fix in even the smallest parking lot accident) and there are no laws governing roll-overs (only tests).

With all these problems, I don't see why they even allow these on the road.

The funny thing is, I really like the idea of sitting up high in my car and being able to see further. That is probably the only reason SUV's are so popular. Looks like they could accomplish that in a macho looking vehicle without these problems.

Cross-over anyone?

Re:On SUV safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399184)

Perhaps now there is ample evidence that an SUV makes an accident worse, if you get hit by one you can sue for punitive damages as the driver made a decision to drive a proven dangerous vehicle.

Might backfire on drivers of older cars, though.

Re:On SUV safety (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399208)

The funny thing is, I really like the idea of sitting up high in my car and being able to see further. That is probably the only reason SUV's are so popular. Looks like they could accomplish that in a macho looking vehicle without these problems.

I'm not sure. A minivan has a higher driving position than most cars, and most of the benefits of an SUV, but is usually chaper, safer and has lower running costs. The only downside seems to be image, which is an important factor for most people.

Re:On SUV safety (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399279)

Minivan? :-) You don't even need a minivan! Okay, personally, I drive a car that has my ass pretty close to the asphalte, but my wife drives a Mercedes A-Class [mercedes-benz.com] and my dad drives an Audi A2 [www.audi.de] . In both of those cars you sit pretty damn high, at least compared to the sedan car that I owned. So, no, you don't need a minivan to sit high. (Of, course, Audi stopped making the A2. Sad, I'd have loved to have A2 TDI because the gas prices are insane these days).

Of course, a minivan is bigger and if you have a family, it's probably the better choice (at least compared to a SUV)

Gee, thanks asshats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399145)

I really needed a reminder that I smashed up my car the other day.

Wimpifying the SUV's and Trucks is not the answer (-1)

Jason Straight (58248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399147)

I've heard this argument before, with the answer of making the Trucks and SUV's "armor" lighter. Which is bullcrap, I like my suburban for protection against some drunk moron with the potential of wiping out my family.

Re:Wimpifying the SUV's and Trucks is not the answ (3, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399179)

And when the drunk moron is driving an SUV and hits you in the side, you and your family will be dead. Had he not had all the "armor" you and your family might have lived

Re:Wimpifying the SUV's and Trucks is not the answ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399180)

What about protection against some drunk moron, with the potential of wiping out your family, who is driving an even bigger SUV? Or - even worse - protection around some moron in a huge overladen light truck, who drives even more aggressively as they believe they are still safe?

The solution is not to get bigger vehicles. It is to get an intelligent government who understands the importance of safety (banning unsafe vehicles from the road, as mentioned above) and educating the populace.

(Ha! Like that would happen in the States.)

Re:Wimpifying the SUV's and Trucks is not the answ (1)

Jason Straight (58248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399192)

Well, really though when considering a loaded truck the point of the armor factor of the vehicle itself is moot, as you need to factor in the armor.

But no matter what the case I'm better off with something with a beefier frame. What's next? Make walls softer so when you lose control of your vehicle on ice and hit one it will be more forgiving?

Re:Wimpifying the SUV's and Trucks is not the answ (2, Interesting)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399273)

So basically, screw everyone else in normal cars, I want to protect my family. Nice.

Oh dear (1)

i_am_not_a_bomba (904443) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399283)

Man, i feel for ya, did you forget what website you're on?

Prepare to cop 300 flaming hot nerdo replies for that little outpouring.

As always... (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399295)

... the trouble is "the others", because you (or one of your kids to which you let use the car) are never going to overspeed, be distracted when driving, get at the wheel with "just a little" alcohol... And well, if something like that happens and you kill someone else, it is not your family so why should you care?

Re:Wimpifying the SUV's and Trucks is not the answ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399297)

Replace "drunk moron" with "insurgent with RPG" and "family" with "crew of mercenaries" and it sort of makes sense. No amount of "armor" will help you when someone crashes a car into your SUV. Specially, if that someone is also driving a big SUV.

EA could learn a thing or two with this (1)

ThePengwin (934031) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399151)

EA could learn a thing or two with this :P

in every Need for speed game you can crash straight into a wall. car dosent get scratched :P
Hit a light poll and the car just automatically goes form 100 to 0
i wish real cars were like that :P

Re:EA could learn a thing or two with this (1)

Jason Straight (58248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399174)

Unless you are talking about Battlefield 2, in which cars simply explode when wet.

Re:EA could learn a thing or two with this (1)

ThePengwin (934031) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399185)

rainy days would be hell :) I wonder why EA has never really put much emphasis on creaistic crashes :P people love desctruction :) and it would make games way funer :P

Re:EA could learn a thing or two with this (1)

wheany (460585) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399264)

I think you would like the Burnout series of games. I've only played Burnout 3, but I hear 4 is good too. Made by EA, by the way...

Re:EA could learn a thing or two with this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399280)

i wish real cars were like that
No, you don't. You'd be dead in an instant, with internal organs torn and strangled (maybe sliced) by seatbelt.

Insurance costs could fix this (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399160)

My insurance company charges more for cars whose occupants are likely to be injured. I would propose the opposite approach. They should charge more for vehicles who are likely to injure the occupants of other vehicles. The driver of the giant pickup truck would be penalized for putting my life at greater risk. That would get a lot of those vehicles off the road. If you need something to boost your ego, you could drive a luxury import; it's actually the safest thing you can drive.

Re:Insurance costs could fix this (1, Troll)

0123456 (636235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399225)

"They should charge more for vehicles who are likely to injure the occupants of other vehicles."

If you choose to drive a death-trap where you're likely to die in a crash, why should other people be penalised for your poor decisions?

vehicle mass (1)

PacoFuentes (928740) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399161)

Lets look at the mass equation:
heavy suv = 2.4 tons
small car = 0.8 tons
the mass involved in a crash is 3.2 tons. The suv, having 3/4 of the total crash-mass gets only a small part of the crash acceleration. The small car gets a hughe acceleration in the crash, and what kills is the acceleration.
Since here in switzerland we have lots of 18 year old albanian-muslim drivers which got a bwm318 for racing on public roads i do have bought a 2.4 ton suv.

bull bar safety (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399162)

I haven't read TFA, but I thought this might be important to notice as well.
Besides the fact that SUVs can cause more harm in accidents due to their obvious bigger size and weight, some SUVs also come with bull bars (the big metalic frames in front). That stuff is a weapon. In Belgium, manufacters aren't allowed to put them on SUVs anymore. The point is that it's too dangerous and it serves no meaningfull purpose (unless you're a cowboy).

Bigger cars to suffer more parking damage (2, Insightful)

leenoble_uk (698539) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399183)

The UK has seen an explosion in the numbers of people driving around in ridiculously proportioned vehicles. America has lived with them for decades so your cities are built around them. The UK is not. Parking spaces are a lot smaller.

I was waiting outside a supermarket the other week, in a parking slot, and one of these tossers shows up and stops in front of me to let out his passengers before moving into a space. The reason was obvious. His car was too damned big to get the doors open properly when it was between two other cars. As far as I'm concerned he should expect to have his bodywork smacked up by the car doors on either side of him.

I also always make a point of thanking people for waiting on narrow roads where parked cars make it impossible for two cars to pass eachother, unless they're driving something like a VW Touraeg. If it is possible for two normal cars to pass each other and your stupid truck sized car is making it impossible then it's your own fault and you'll get no thanks from me. If you drove a normal car you'd have had no reason to stop.

Two points of safety. (1)

ItsIllak (95786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399200)

1/ I consider myself to be a safe, knowledgeable and alert driver. Therefore I'd prefer to be the one on top if someone who was less so hit me.

2/ "Top Gear" in the UK ran a piece about how SUVs run over other cars, thereby causing lots of damage. The pointed out that in most collisions, one car will run over the other anyway, even identical models with different tyre pressures or suspension wear.

what is the definition of "safely" ? (5, Insightful)

tjic (530860) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399218)


"The evidence is compelling that body-on-frame light trucks cannot safely coexist with passenger cars "


The author of the study is making the mistake that safety is a boolean, and that things are either safe or unsafe.

In fact, everything is unsafe, to varying degrees. ("Life", in the words of Warren Zevon, "is gonna killa you").

The important thing, when contemplating questions of public policy, is to COMPARE one risk to the next, and make sure that we're making reasonable decisions and tradeoffs.

For example, over the last 10-15 years, a lot of states have dropped the DUI (driving under the influnce) BAC cutoff (blood alcohol content) from 0.1% to 0.08%. Lower is better, right?

Well, as it turns out, having a BAC in the 0.08 - 0.10% range has the same effect on driving ability as (a) having a cold; (b) getting a poor night's sleep; (c) being over the age of 50.

If we're going to make a 0.81% BAC illegal (and punish it with major fines), should we not also have the same punishments for driving while having the sniffles, or while being 51?

The answer is that one behavior gets a penalty because it sounds good, makes politicians look like They're Doing Something(tm) and has moralistic overtones ("get those damn drunks off the road!").

To say that "light trucks cannot safely coexist with passenger cars " is purest nonsense. We've had light trucks coexisting with passenger cars for 70 years, and the fatality rate drops every single year. Sure, if you could snap your fingers and get every pickup truck, minivan, delivery van, and SUV off the road, things would get incrementally safer for the average driver of a passenger car. ...but how much safer?

I don't know off the top of my head, but is it a level of safety comparable to every passenger car driver making sure that their tires are fully inflated before each trip? Or more, or less?

Absolutist boolean statements like "X can not safety coexist with Y" do not answer questions like this. These statements are public-policy-by-press-release and deserve to be condemned.

Re:what is the definition of "safely" ? (0)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399276)

As much as I dislike SUVs, I have to agree with your point. Well said.

SUVs block the roads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399247)

They are a real pain. Whereas normal cars co-exist with motorcycles, allowing them to freely travel within the cracks. SUVs, due to their width, simply block the roads to both cars and motorcycles. A real problem in crowded cities like London. Very anti-social vehicles.

SUVs'?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399255)

Worst misuse of the apostrophe ever.. and you manage to do it twice for consistency!

Very biased (1, Informative)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399267)

From TFA: The study, which Durbin called the first on SUVs and child safety, was sponsored by Partners for Child Passenger Safety. So much for objectivity.
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