Crash tests have shown that contemporary cars are pretty safe at middling speeds. You can hit a wall at 40 mph and walk away with a few bruises. But what happens at higher speeds? German automotive club ADAC crashed a five-star (Euro-NCAP) car at 50 mph and the results were not pretty. The Renault Laguna III is way up there is terms of safety, as good or better than any other passenger car (no Freedom Fries jokes here please, I've driven a Laguna and it's good). In this video, a grey Laguna hits a solid barrier at 40 mph, after which its occupants could exit unharmed (if dummies could walk). Taken to 50 mph, the orange Laguna is close to doing a Dianamobile. The A-beam collapses and the door sill folds. Physics rule; at double the speed, crash energy increases to the square, so even a relatively small increase in velocity can cause havoc. Passengers of the orange Laguna would suffer serious injury, despite being equipped with the works: chest airbags, seatbelt tensioners, and knee airbags. At the tested speed, the crumple zone is used up. Any faster and the car would basically fall apart. ADAC: "Appropriate speed can save your life". Which is not exactly news, but seeing the evidence is more, uh, "visceral" than just knowing the facts.
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