By on February 21, 2011

Although cars are becoming more and more safe with every new generation, auto safety nuts are forever finding new ways to make cars seem scary. In some cases, the rush to create new crash test standards can create as many problems as it solves (see roof-crush standards), but in others you wonder why certain standards aren’t tested on every vehicle. One case that falls into the latter category: rear-crash tests. No government requires rear-crash testing, but in the wake of several accidents, Germany’s AutoBild magazine decided to look into what exactly happens when a car is hit from behind at 64 km/h… and the results are not encouraging.

AutoBild and DEKRA bought two cars to test for rear-crashworthiness, a Toyota iQ to represent small cars and a Renault Grand Scenic to represent compact MPVs. And these two vehicles were not necessarily chosen at random either: both received 5-star ratings from the European NCAP crash test program, which test for front and side impacts, but has no full rear crash test. Also, both offer very little in the way of rear crumple zones. Compact-based MPVs, particularly those with third rows, offer between 21 cm between the rear headrest and the rear hatch (on the tested Renault) and six cm (Ford Grand C-Max), measurements that suggest problems for third-row, rear-crash safety.

Sure enough, the results were not good. The Renault was placed about four feet behind a station wagon, filled with seven dummies, and hit at about 40 MPH by a Mercedes ML. The SUV dove some 30 centimeters into the rear of the car, and delivered huge amounts of impact to the rear-seat passengers. According to the attending doctor, three of the Renault’s passengers received eight separate different impacts that exceeded safety standards. Particularly bad were head, neck and torso impacts for third-row passengers, who could expect brain injury and hemorrhaging, vertebrae and intervertebral disc fractures, and rib fractures with the possibility of organ penetration. Not great for a 40 MPH crash in a five-star car.

Similarly, the iQ was hit at a lower speed (32 MPH) and by a smaller vehicle (an Opel Vectra), but the rear-seat passenger still would have suffered serious injuries, including vertebrae and pelvis and leg bone fractures, as thigh, torso and neck impacts again exceeded established limits. Even front-seat passengers saw impacts that nearly reached the limits. Meanwhile, the rear-seat occupant would likely be unconscious and trapped in the back of the vehicle, requiring removal of a passenger seat or cutting the roof to rescue them. Even the rear airbag appeared to not fire properly in the rear-impact test.

Obviously these were only two tests of very different vehicles under unique circumstances, but the results do seem to indicate that some kind of rear-crash test standard should be looked into. After all, front-impacts are ultimately the driver’s responsibility, while rear-impacts are unavoidable with “active safety” measures (aka defensive driving). AutoBild’s conclusion is that the NCAP program should start testing rear impacts, and we can certainly see the benefit to such testing. And with more European-style compact MPVs coming to the US (Ford C-Max, Buick-badged Opel Meriva/Zafira), this issue is worth discussing the US-market context as well. This is not to say that any type of vehicle is fundamentally unsafe, but AutoBild and DEKRA’s research definitely points towards an important opportunity for greater research.

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42 Comments on “Has The Time Come For Rear-Crash Testing?...”


  • avatar
    Mike1972

    “Meanwhile, the third-row occupant would likely be unconscious and trapped in the back of the vehicle, requiring removal of a passenger seat or cutting the roof to rescue them.”

    In an iQ?

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    This really isn’t surprising or new.  I remember the same sort of claims about vehicles like the Dodge Omni years ago.  On small hatchbacks and MPVs, there’s really no crumple zone.  And if this is a concern, don’t buy the vehicle.
     
    All the more reason to revert back the vehicle proportions like those of, say, the ’64 Impala.  Have a big, long rear deck on the car and you don’t have to worry about rear crumple zones.  And as a bonus, you’d have enough room back there to lower the deck height so I can see out of the damn rear window.

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    I thought that there were already some recent rear-impact standards?  Are they optional?  Only in certain markets?

  • avatar
    Zackman

    See? my concerns were right-on the other week when I inquired about back seats in trucks and certain hatchbacks being ‘way too close to the rear glass, making the rear occupant’s head the first thing to go. Not to mention the old Ford Pinto concerns almost 40 years ago. I know this article is about crash standards, but my concerns still hold, I believe. The original 5 mph bumper standards for F & R, being reduced to 2½ mph did us no favors in that regard. What do the OEM’s do now? Could that spell the end of hatchbacks, because of the lack of crush distance? Maybe the return of the “bustle back” look per 1980′s Caddys and Licolns, done right, pretty attractive. Just random ramblings. The can of worms is now open for business!

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    Yeah, I’ll confess that some of these extremely small cars scare the crap out of me, especially with the thought of being t-boned or rear-ended by a large truck or SUV. That’s one of the reasons I like to have at least a couple of feet of metal behind the back seat.
     
    The IIHS does give a “rear crash protection/head restraint rating,” but I’m not sure how that is derived.

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    This highlights one of the issues with modern crash test standards, and the IIHS highlighted this beautifully.
     
    The Toyota Yaris and the Toyota Camry when crashed into a wall via the IIHS offset crash test both do very well. But when the IIHS decided to up the ante, and do a make to make crash test of a Yaris into a Camry in an offset crash test, the results are…horrific.
     

     
    The driver’s head of the Yaris smalls into the hood of the Camry as the Camry rips through the car. The IIHS conclusion was the crash was likely unsurvivable in the Yaris, and the driver of the Camry, interestingly would be injured. Neither car achieved a “good” in a real world crash test.
     
    You can’t change the law of physics. There are no good answers. Crash tests are just a relative gauge. In generally I loathe the bloat of cars in the endless quest to keep us safe, but some stuff in common sense. Rear crash tests as cars get smaller and smaller might make sense, if anything to provide education to consumers to make a more informed choice. If a rear passenger is sitting in a crumple zone something has to give, and typically that is flesh.

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      There’s actually a website that tries to take the weight of vehicles into consideration when evaluating the safety ratings of various vehicles. They’ve come up with a complex formula to take account of both IIHS and NHTSA ratings, as well as vehicle weight to derive a combined rating of their own. It’s actually quite interesting, and I’ll post it below (assuming it’s okay to do that here–I have no personal affiliation with the site whatsoever, by the way).
       
      http://www.informedforlife.org/viewartcl.php?index=1

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    Anyone who has ever looked at the back parking lot at fire stations knows that firefighters drive trucks, trucks, trucks, excursions, suburbans, durangos and the like.
    When the wife and I were looking for an SUV for the family, we went with the Durango because the Commanders rear seat was right up to the glass.
     
    I love smaller cars but rear end collisions scare the heck out of me.
    My point about the firemen. They know a whole lot more about any type of crash than we do and drive vehicles according to that knowledge here in the USA.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Or they know it’s not easy to drive a Camry or Equinox five miles into the woods to fight a brush fire, and they like to go hunting on weekends when they’re not on call.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Buddy of mine who is a firefighter drives an ’01 Outback and his wife drives an ’09 Jetta (and often has their 6 month old daughter in the Jetta).
       
      He responds to plenty of car accidents in his job, some fatal. I guess he could buy a big truck or SUV that’s pretty late model if not new (firefighters have a pretty good compensation package and he’s a lieutenant), but for some reason, he doesn’t. Go figure.

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      pgcooldad:
       
      I think its hysterical that your hysteria for “safety” has driven you to the most obese of the car market (Tahoe, Burban, Lambdas, Durango and or Commander = D-E size class.)
       
      If you did any research..
      The safety b.s shows they never test equal sized vehicles against each other. They also never tested Semis and larger than 3tons against a Suburban and competitors from the domestics. Forget testing ROLLOVER strength or actually having the ability to actually drive the damn thing.
       
      You arent any safer in a Suburban and its size.. just cause you choose to THINK you are safe in one.. when in actuality there are many MORE ways to go in a vehicle of that size. I also think its hysterical that you bought a “SUV” for the family to be safe in.. when mentioning fire co’s using the same size for their personal vehicles. There is no correlation.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I think the time has come for more realistic crash testing all round – including rear collisions. The public is being mislead by the ever increasing safety scores that promise safety only in a small subset of realistic accident scenarios.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      The public, including TTAC readers, apparently – who think that there’s no need to investigate vehicle safety when buying a car because ‘they all get five stars’.
       
      And that’s why, despite TTAC readers and writers biases, it does make a difference when you get a Saab or a Volvo: They design for real-world safety rather than tests, and always have. Other marques teach to the test, and that doesn’t help you in real life, whether you hit a moose, or a guy with the brain of a moose hits you.

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      perisoft:
       
      Ive heard similar debates about Civic and Corolla fuel economy
      Or Hyundai / Kis about prices..
      Or the domestics cause how much on the hood they got..
       
      If ya only buying the damn car cause its SAFE… ya got more to worry about than I thought.
      Its not good enough.. that its just safe OR the fuel economy OR the “prices” the Koreans charge.. and it definately BLOWS with how much the domestics put on their hoods.. to get the damn cars to move.
       
      YOU DONT HAVE TO BUY just a “safe” car, because in the end.. thats all ya got, good fuel eco, reliable and or cheap.
       
      EVERY CAR should be built with “5 star” front, rear roof and pedestrian safety.
       
      But I sure as ALL HELL wont buy either for one thing (safety, fuel eco, reliable etc, etc.)

      EVERY CAR is “safe”, and I WILL NOT believe that paying for a “C1 from Volvo” is going to get me that much further in life.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      @Acc – no, of course you don’t have to buy solely on safety. But there are situations where it becomes a preeminent concern; after I had my son, I had to decide whether to replace my 1995 Mercury Mystique. I absolutely loved that car (for some reason…). Had an awesome sound system, went like hell in bad weather with Blizzaks, interior was damn nice, and it had the bonus of being free (well – if you don’t count my grandpa’s dying so I could inherit it in the price. If you do, it was pretty damn expensive).
       
      On the other hand, it was really unsafe. Not a death trap, not Landwind unsafe, but not in the same class as newer stuff. And I had a son.
       
      So since I decided to have a son (I decided, knowing full well the tradeoffs), it was no longer responsible for me to keep a car I knew wasn’t the best I could get – just like it was no longer responsible for me to blow my money on keeping a craphole Brooklyn apartment in addition to my upstate place, just because it was two stops from 14th street.
       
      And, as it turned out, the tradeoffs weren’t a compromise at all: The safest car I could afford ended up also being far more comfortable, with better audio, lots of toys (rain sense!!!!), two seconds faster to 60, and better mileage.
       
      The point is that it isn’t about everyone buying the safest car possible. If I had my druthers I might well drive an older Jag (or try to). But among the many compromises I made when I had a child was to do my best for him, not my best-except-saving-a-grand, or my best-except-this-one-has-better-interior-materials. Now, maybe if I lived in Montana, and drove on flat nowheresville 95% of the time in either baking heat or wretched cold, with no other cars for 100 miles, reliability would be much more important on balance; collision performance doesn’t mean much if there’s nothing to collide with and you break down in subzero weather. But just saying, “Don’t buy on safety” doesn’t take into account that a car is part of your priorities in life, not the end-all, and that situations differ drastically between people.

  • avatar
    aspade

    Does this mean we can look forward to rear hatches too heavy to open?  They can go with our pillars too big to see around and headrests too uncomfortable to rest our heads on.
     

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      No, no, no… power hatches will become standard and then we can have more things to go wrong electrically in the car.  Plus I predict that those electric (or hydraulic) motors will die just out of warranty like clockwork.  What a bright future we’re facing. 

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      aspade – are your doors and hood to heavy to open now? Are your a-pillars so big you can’t see around them?
       
      You do realize that people made these same arguments about seat belts, right? And then airbags, and then roof crush tests, and emissions tests, and this, and that…
       
      And, obstinately, engineers have continued to improve cars. With all the ‘unreliable electronics’ in cars now, they’re VASTLY more reliable than they were in the ’60s and ’70s. Take a look at Popular Mechanics mags from the era – people were getting cars delivered with doors that wouldn’t shut, that leaked water, with wheel bearings that failed on the drive home and left tires rolling down the road. 50% or more of buyers on average had to return their cars for service before they hit 5k miles, and a big chunk had to take them back immediately.
       
      And to top it all off, they got 8mpg and 150hp out of 6 liter V8s, were horrifyingly unsafe, had next to no features, were loud, handled terribly, couldn’t stop to save their lives, and…. a lot of them had terrible rear visibility. And those cars with leaking windows, broken door latches from the factory, paint with bubbles, windshield wipers that sailed off when you used them, turn signals that the dealers couldn’t fix – EVER – they cost the equivalent of $30k+.
       
      And despite all of these horrible safety and emissions regulations, we now have family cars that do 0-60 in under 7 seconds, make 270+hp out of 2.3 liter engines while getting 25mpg, have 100,000 mile warranties, and are put together so well that instead of criticizing cars for doors that won’t shut and seats that aren’t bolted down, reviewers have to dissect the finer points of handling and interior material choices. Nobody even bothers testing braking distances or cornering capability for safety, because pretty much everything performs quite well.
       
      So, you want to go back to the free-wheelin’ ’70s, without stifling regulations? Fine – get yourself a ’75 Ford Thunderbird! Popular Science – even at the time - did 0-5 ratings… let’s see…. Fuel economy: Zero. Handling: Zero. Visibility: Zero. Maneuverability: One. “Critically poor steering response and handling precision… severe [brake] fade stretched the stopping distance… despite applying about 220-250 pounds’ pedal pressure. With cool brakes, rear-wheel locking, with resulting loss of directional stability, was a problem.”
       
      The raw specs?
       
      OHV V8 – 7.5 liters. 194hp. 12.8 seconds to 60mph, 173 feet 60-0 braking with hot brakes. 5.8mpg in PS’s fast driving cycle; 13.2mpg at a constant 45mph. Yeah, that’s right – five-point-eight mpg. For a 194hp engine.
       
      5188lb curb weight. It must be the safety features and airbags – wait, there are none! Amazing!
       
      And you know what you paid for all of that?

      $37758.79.

      Thirty eight thousand dollars – for a car which, if it was anything like the rest of the trash out there, probably shipped with broken lights, patchy paint, leaking doors, and – amazingly – flaky electronics which often didn’t work from the moment the car left the lot and never worked again.

      Sound like a good deal? Does it sound like cars have gone to hell in a handbasket due to regulations?
       
      No. Cars were crap then for reasons other than the lack of regulation – but cars aren’t worse off now despite all the safety standards. Pretty much anything now will stop better, handle better, weigh almost 50% less, have more features, get triple or more the gas mileage while being twice as fast, have far better visibility, last longer, and do it all for half the price – *and* be vastly safer and have 12 (lead-filled, apparently, if you ask a lot of people around here) airbags.
       
      So why is it, then, that you assume that rear crash standards will result in cars with ‘hatches too heavy to open’ and pillars too big to see around – when cars built in an era of little regulation were utter and complete sh*t, and cars built now, in an area of apparently stifling rules, are pretty awesome?
       
      Any answers?

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      “With all the ‘unreliable electronics’ in cars now, they’re VASTLY more reliable than they were in the ’60s and ’70s.”
       
      Well, actually, electric power steering systems have more issues than hydraulic steering systems.
       
      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/whos-afraid-of-electric-power-steering/
       
      And let’s not forget about all the teething problems manufacturers are having with direct injection and high pressure fuel pumps.
       
      http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2010/10/bmw-recalls-150800-vehicles-for-fuel-pump-failures/1
       
      http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?t=292279
       
      So while cars may be more efficient and safer than they were 35 years ago, they still have their reliability problems, depending on brand.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Perisoft, best TTAC rant EVER!

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      @PeriSoft
      Bravo! Excellent work!

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      @Sam P
      Sure, cars still have reliability problems – particularly on the leading edge of tech (VW DSG box, ahem). But on balance, I’d be absolutely *shocked* if cars now – say, a similar selection of vehicles in the 20 to 30k price range (adjusted) within a five year period – aren’t vastly more reliable. AFAIK, warranties in the late ’60s and early ’70s were under 2 years, if that. I doubt that 7/70 and 10/100 would be as prevalent if cars were as unreiable now as they were then. Hell, my presumably horrible CPO’d 2005 Saab 9-5 is STILL under bumper-to-bumper for another 10k miles or a year.

      It’s too bad that truedelta wasn’t around in the ’70s – I have a feeling that if it had been, nobody would be arguing that cars are less reliable now.

      And @ Russycle and Mazda3 – I have no idea if you’re being sarcastic or not, but I figure that if you’re being sincere, I’ll take it as a compliment, and if you aren’t being sincere, that means that I was close enough to the mark to piss people off – so it’s a compliment. Yay!

      To Russ, though – if you think that’s the best TTAC rant ever, whether it’s congratulatory or smirking, you obviously haven’t read some of my other work. ;)

  • avatar
    Russycle

    ” but the results do seem to indicate that some kind of rear-crash test standard should be looked into.”
    Maybe.  Just how prevalent are 40 mph rear enders?  I’m all for safety, but if we’re talking about spending billions to save a few dozen lives per yer, is it really worth it?  I’m not saying they don’t happen, I’ve witnessed one, but I’d like to see more data.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Bingo! Unless you are a cop who has to park in the breakdown lane of a highway for hours a day as part of your job, is the possibility of a high-speed rear-ending REALLY worth losing any sleep over??

      We are ALREADY FAR into the realm of diminishing returns when it comes to automotive safety, to the point where passive safety is impacting active safety.

      Idiot-proofing just tends to breed better idiots.

  • avatar
    Highway27

    Say goodbye to all the hatchbacks that some folks clamor for.  Do you need rear crumple zones to meet the crash standards?  Then all vehicles will have them, in the form of trunks.  The open area of a hatchback may not work even if a dedicated cargo area is left as a crush zone, since the roof will provide little energy dissipation, and has the possibility of intruding on the passenger cabin.

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      I wonder if a “liftback” design, like that of the previous Mazda6, would allow for a trunk-like crumple zone yet allow for more efficient, hatch-like space utilization.
       
      This would be a win-win situation for the entire market: the hatchback lovers could get the versatility they crave, sedan buyers could get a bigger trunk without the perceived stigma of a hatch, and safety standards would be easily met or exceeded.
       
      Am I missing something, or is there a reason such designs aren’t more common?

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    I was sitting in the third row of a Colt Vista wagon when it was hit in the back (twice). I’m still here, so the impact wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t an apocalyptic death trap either.

  • avatar

    My auto safety bumper is just what is needed for small cars.
    http://www.safersmallcars.com

  • avatar
    Acc azda atch

    I think its fantastic… (sarcasm)
     
    We got b.s safety for front impact. We have to jack the hoods on all cars currently produced for pedestrian safety..
    We have to have mandated beeps and alerts for pedestrians and the blind community for a stupid hybrid to be heard.. when REAR IMPACT is totally ignored.
    When rear impacts are not even mentioned. Heck, rear door impact isn’t mentioned either. It would also be nice of the average current vehicle had a roof that could sustain the weight of the vehicle.
     
    This is 2011.. with vehicles being planned for release in 2015.. and yet there is no rear impact safety standard..

    FORGET about lining up bumpers of all vehicles.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    If you really want to be safe in a rear collision, tow a cheap, lightweight trailer. Back when I first started landscaping, I used an inexpensive mow trailer to haul my equipment. One fateful afternoon, heading back to the shop, waiting for traffic to clear to turn down a side street, I hear a jake brake barreling down on me.  I check my mirror just in time to see a fully loaded dump truck beginning to swerve. BANG! It hits the right rear of my trailer and somehow passes cleanly to the right of me. Holy S–T!!! The truck comes to a stop about 100 feet ahead of me and I try to pull off into the break down lane. SKREEEE! Once there, I get out to examine the damage. The trailer, which was made almost entirely out of metal mesh, was crumpled halfway up its right side and the hitch arm was snapped almost entirely off. My truck had a partially broken taillight and a busted leaf spring. If that trailer had been better built it, probably would have pushed me into oncoming traffic, which contained a fully loaded propane truck. I tend not to think about what would have happened if I didn’t have that trailer.

    That being said, I still feel safe in the vehicles I drive. Mr. Half-drunk dump truck driver said he didn’t see my brake lights. I’ve upgraded my equipment to where if you can’t see my lights, you’re legally blind. Most heavy truck drivers are aware of their surroundings and drunk ones are few and far between. I’m more afraid of texting teenaged twits. In the past six years, my buddy’s mother and my father have been in rear end collisions and they came out fine. My dad was struck at ±40mph and if his minivan hadn’t been pushed into oncoming traffic, it would have had minimal damage. My buddy’s mom got rear ended at ±20mph in her Sable wagon and was left with a torn bumper cover. The neon that hit her was totaled.

    I’m fine with rear crash testing but I wonder if with all of the new active safety devices, GPS locators, and all of that other techno wizardry it will be a moot point in a few years.

  • avatar
    SuperACG

    Don’t the Police have rear crash standards for their squad cars?  Those cars seem to be the ones most susceptible to 40+ MPH rear collisions…

  • avatar
    newfdawg

    Before everyone rushes off on a new safety crusade, I want to know what percentage of accidents are rear end collisions…and I’m wondering if all the emphasis on passive safety is having a negative affect on active safety.  It seems to create larger, heavier vehicles that consume more gas, and more expensive to operate. Certainly the bureaucrats are never going to voluntarily vote themselves out of existence-they simply find new things to regulate.  With all the talk about the budget deficit and the need to reduce spending, NHTSA would seem like an excellent place to begin.

    • 0 avatar
      AKRonald

      Here in Albuquerque, we have a real problem with people texting while driving.  One of my co-workers was stopped on the freeway at rush hour a year ago in his fairly recent model Caddy.  He was rear ended at about 45 mph by a texter.  He made  it to work the next morning, didn’t feel good, went home and died of subdural about 36 hours after the accident.
      Teenage daughter of a friend of my wife was stopped at the stoplight on a freeway offramp just over the brow of an overpass.  Escalade came over the brow and plowed right into the back of her, sandwiching her against the car in front of her.
      Years ago (mid 1980′s -before cell phones, my college friend was driving his old (early 60′s) pickup – he commented he was astonished how fast a Dodge Caravan could stop in the rain, and how far the rear end caved in with only scratches on the paint of his front bumper.
      High speed rear-end accidentas are not as rare as one might wish

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      It seems to create larger, heavier vehicles that consume more gas, and more expensive to operate.

      See my post above. Cars now are anything but larger, heavier, and more gas-consuming than the ones of the unregulated ’60s and ’70s. The 5100lb, 6mpg, 22 foot long two-door “personal luxury” barges weren’t that way because of safety regulation. Cherry-picking stuff like, “Oh, the Datsun 240Z was lighter than my Audi A4″ is absurd. The 1975 Mercedes 450SL was 4500lbs; the 240 was 3030. The current e-class is 900lbs heavier – but probably quite a big bigger on the inside than the 240, and just a smidge faster.

      The aforementioned Datsun, by the way, was 2300lbs – quite light. But also quite slow. And within a few years, the 280ZX was 2900, and not because of airbags. That’s only 300lbs lighter than the current 350Z.

      Speaking of 350Zs and airbags, most are apparently not sold with side airbags. My dad insisted on them when he got his, despite his having to wait a while to find the right car (stick + side airbags + silver = ???). A few months after he got it, he was crossing an intersection, and a big honkin’ pickup truck clobbered him in the left rear quarter panel while travelling at about 50mph. It spun the Z around two times and nearly tore the rear end of the car off.

      The impact spun the car counter-clockwise, from my dad’s perspective, flinging his head into the b-pillar at pretty significant velocity. The next day, he had a pretty bad headache from when his head was wrenched back and to the left (or the car was wrenched forward and to the right, depending on your perspective) into the airbag.

      Had his head hit the plastic b-pillar rather than a – as aspade would put it – “government pillow” – I would have inherited a shredded 350Z from my dad.

      I’m not sure if that was the 12th airbag referred to in the “what good are 12 airbags” refrain, but I asked him, and he’s glad he held out for it. Instead of planning his funeral, I was discussing the best place for him to get his ride fixed. I’m glad he held out for it, too.

      People sometimes forget how bad crashes really are. The fact that any given person survived a crash in a rustbucket and lived to tell the tale here doesn’t mean that the rustbuckets were safe – it just means that all the guys who were killed in rustbuckets don’t post about it for some reason.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    When it came time to buy a car, rather than an suv, I considered how many small cars I’d seen with the rear hatch/bumper smashed up against the front seats after being rear-ended, and chose to buy something with a trunk.  I replaced the compact spare with a full-size spare to add more mass in the back end, and built headrests for the back seat because it lacked them and the upright rear glass was too close to rear-seat passengers’ heads.
     
    As an aside, I find it amazing that bicyclists are forced to wear helmets, while even motorists in vulnerable seats are not.
     
    Every chain-reaction crash includes almost as many rear impacts as frontal ones.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    @ PeriSoft
     
    Respect. Great reading.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    I’m all for safety and my wife sometimes complains,”what will happen to the kids in the back of my GTI” in a rear end collision. I kinda hope that massive C-piller will do something but I fear she’s right. We bought my daughter a Mazda 3 – sedan, not hatch – her choice and now I’m glad we did. I’m thinking about selling my GTI next year when the warranty expires and I can actually make a dollar on the deal.

  • avatar
    carve

    Being rear-ended is only responsible for 3% of car fatalities.  This is because 1) seats do a great job spreading and absorbing impact 2) Most vehilces don’t have a seat right against the rear bumper, meaning 3) You have a HUGE crumple zone when you’re rear-ended…usually to the back of the seat, if not to the back of the front seat.

    Therefore, expending effort and material to rear-end strength is a poor investment compared to front, side, and rollover strength, which are responsible for approximately 1/3 each of fatalities.

  • avatar

    @Perisoft, regarding weight:
    The curb weight (ready-to-drive) of an SL450 (1973) was 3,160 pounds (1,580 kg), not 4,500.
    The curb weight of an S class (W126) in the eighties was between 3,140 pounds (260SE, 300SE) and 3,600 pounds (560SE). Theses cars were massive and safe,  because they had been designed with safety concerns in mind. They were very safe, because engineers could not rely on an airbags. Plain old SRS had to do.
    Now look at the curb weight of contemporary cars.
    BTW: I’d rather DIAF in a hatch or a station wagon, than driving around with a semitrailer or silly sedan, just to be on the safe side should a rear-ender occur *).
    *) Already had one, in a Fiat Panda (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1997_Fiat_Panda.JPG), curb weight 1,400 to 1,600 pounds, although not at 32 mph.
     

  • avatar

    Yes, it’s about time authorities looked into this matter. Rear-end collisions are a far more frequent occurrence than head-on collisions. An intriguing thought is that car makers themselves are opposed to do this particular sort of crash testing. I asked NCAP if it is planning to do additional testing in the near future. Better rear-end crash protection by using another layout has been formally proposed by me to a consortium of car makers and automotive suppliers. I am curious what they will do with this. Ignore? Embrace? Marginalize?


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