By on April 13, 2009

TTAC doesn’t “do” press embargoes. While some of our writers have put me in the awkward position of respecting their desire to respect a manufacturer’s prohibition on publishing a review until the appointed second (I kid you not), if someone sends me anything other than private correspondence, I feel free to publish it. This evening (Monday), the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) e-mailed TTAC a couple of pdfs (click here or here), They were embargoed until one minute after midnight, Tuesday. So I immediately decided to publish them. Besides, big whoop; Pentagon papers these ain’t. It’s an anecdotal study of three—count ’em, three—crashes. The match ups: Toyota Yaris/Toyota Camry, Honda Fit/Honda Accord, Smart Fortwo/Mercedes C-class. What’s up with the lack of inter-brand rivalry? Apparently, “the smallest cars do a comparatively poor job of protecting people in crashes.” Huh. And just in case that’s a bit tame (despite the usual photos), the IIHS did some number crunching on fuel economy. They’d like you to know that “even though fuel economy is their biggest selling point, many cars just a little bit bigger get close to, or the same mpg as the mini and micro cars tested.”

[UPDATE: Embargo time and second link now fixed.]
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74 Comments on “IIHS: Small Cars Not as Safe as Bigger Ones!...”


  • avatar
    meefer

    On a related note, water is still wet.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Who says consumers aren’t rational?

  • avatar
    akear

    It will be interesting to see how bad Chrysler’s awful fiats will do.

  • avatar
    arapaima

    I don’t think it will blow minds to hear that hitting a smaller car with a bigger one is worse for the small one.

    Oh and with the exception of the “smart”, I was under the impression that these tiny models were mainly sold because they were the cheapest new car you could find.

  • avatar
    volvo

    All in all I think this is good info to widely disseminate.

    The NHTSA safety ratings would suggest that passenger compartment construction, airbags and active safety devices make these sub-sub compacts safe. That does not seem to be the case.

    I passed 2 Smarts on the freeway yesterday. Limit was 70 and they were doing about 60 in the number 1 lane. I could only shake my head.

    I read the entire press release and since it is from the IIHS (an Insurance company advocacy group) its solution to safety and fuel economy is the 55mph limit.

    Ideally the IIHS would like us to buy car insurance and then not drive at all.

  • avatar
    npbheights

    I was driving on the highway today in my turquoise 1979 Lincoln Continental Town Car when I pulled alongside a Smart for two. His car was as long as my hood. I am sure it was a sight to see.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    2nd link corrected: https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/iihs_news_041409_embargo.pdf

    Last month’s IIHS newsletter described a couple of kinds of accidents that were likely to cause injury or death. One that stood out to me was: a frontal impact into a fixed pole, against which crush zones generally don’t fare well.

  • avatar
    TZ

    Re: the press embargo – well, I guess that if you don’t want to get them anymore, you can publish them whenever you want!

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    The USA policy seems to be that each consumer should supersize & up-armor their own vehicles to protect themselves. This free-for-all is unfortunate, as it leads to an arms race of sorts. The Honda Fit mentioned above isn’t considered particularly small or light in many parts of the world.

    I’ve long maintained that government crash tests are backwards… instead of requiring that vehicles are capable of withstanding a certain self-inflicted impact (for which buyers have a self-interest), vehicles should be required to dish out only a limited amount of damage to standard test targets. This would turn the tide on the arms race.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    @npbheights: I remember driving a 1967 Buick LeSaber on laske Shore drive near the Loop one night in the late 60s. I pulled up at a light next to a Honda Accord. It too was shorter than my Buick’s hood. I laughed.

    I now own an Accord (2002). He who laughs last laughs best.

  • avatar
    mkII

    It would be really interesting to see how midsize or even full size sedans fair against trucks (F-150, Ram, Sierra).

    Not trying to flame here, but there’s just way too much soccer moms on phones and rednecks that jack up their ride in those trucks. The weight and impact height incompatibility is mind boggling.

    No idea why the land of health-and-safety regulations never did anything on that…

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    @Robert Schwartz

    The Accord first saw the light of day in 1976. Your point is taken, especially since the new Accord is at least as big as your old Skylark.

  • avatar
    210delray

    I have a good Smart story. Just today I was headed east on I-70 in Indiana going 65 mph in a heavy rainstorm (but not heavy enough to limit forward visibility). The speed limit is 70. I had pulled out into the fast lane to pass a slower moving car when I saw a blue Smart Fortwo, with NO LIGHTS ON, approaching me fairly rapidly from behind. I upped my speed to 70 to complete the pass sooner to let the Smart go by. Not too many miles down the road, said Smart was on the shoulder with flashers on! Broken down? Who knows? Those things can’t go over 90, right?

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    I. I wonder just how much safer smaller vehicle would be if they did not have to share the road with much larger vehicles?

    2. There have been this king of “test” at leas since the 70’s in my memory.

    3. I do have a distinct memory of a story in print in the 70’s that described a (I think) Vega that had all of the voids in its body structure filled with relatively light weight, energy absorbing foam. When it was crashed into an (huge) impala of the day, it inflicted very considerable damage to the impala.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    And BTW, where is the Suburban vs semi truck crash test?

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    MKII,

    They (NHTSA) did in fact release a report on Truck/Large SUV vs car collisions. They determined that deaths/injuries were 3.3 times more likely in SUV vs Car collisions than car vs car collisions.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crash_incompatibility

    Makes sense to me (I have read the report but I can’t seem to find it anymore or else I would have linked it) On top of that add the extra braking time, poor handling of large SUVs and (no offence intended) the “personality” of some large SUV/Truck drivers and you got one hell of a combination.

    No way you would catch me in a mini with large SUVs on the road. Airbags only go so far in the battle against physics but, eventually, they will lose. Heck, I was being tailgated at 125km/h on the highway by some jerk in a F-350. Guess 15 over the limit was not fast enough for him. If I had to brake for any reason I would have been dead, even in my A6. I speed up to 140km/h, he kept right up on my butt. My only recourse was to seriously brake the speed limit to get away from him. I’m far safer doing 170km/h on the highway than 130km/h 5 feet in front of an F-350 piloted by an aggressive idiot.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    TZ:
    Re: the press embargo – well, I guess that if you don’t want to get them anymore, you can publish them whenever you want!

    Until a disgruntled 3rd party decides to (secretly) leak to TTAC.

    Embargoes are mainly about spinning to favored sources. Embargoes had their place when news moved slowly. In the internet age, if it’s available to so-called journalists, it should be available.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Conspiracy / Foil Hat Watch: Former IIHS exec and Madd CEO Charles Hurley now runs the NHTSA.

  • avatar
    snabster

    Really priceless. If the insurance institute — my neighbors, it looks like — was concerned about safety rather than about lowering the highway speed limit, they definitely would have crashed a Landcruiser vs. a Yaris. Much better pictures.

    Lets go over how you die in a car:

    1. You are not on a highway
    2. You are really speeding (probably 20+ over the legal limit)
    3. You are not wearing a seat belt

    in addition:

    4. You are probably drunk
    5. And it is at night

    It really helps if you under 21 as well.

    Changing the speed limit on a highway isn’t going to change those factors. Driving a mini-car on a highway? Would make me very nervous, but generally highways are safe places to be. High speed isn’t so much of a problem on highways as it on two lane country roads.

    If mini-cars are more dangerous, shouldn’t their premiums be higher? I suspect they are not.

  • avatar
    Ken Elias

    The Wall Street Journal already has a story up on its website about this and the time now is 9:40PM PDT…guess it’s a loose embargo!

  • avatar
    Demetri

    Conclusion: We should all drive the biggest and heaviest vehicle possible. Oh wait, then we’re all less safe because we can’t brake, maneuver, or see anything, and there aren’t any small cars to run in to.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    I’m not comfortable having our family daily drivers be any of the really small cars. Our current fleet includes an ’06 TSX, ’03 Accord and ’93 240. With all of the monster trucks on the roads around here, even this is only modest protection for myself and our family. A Civic or smaller vehicle isn’t going to make the grade around here.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    Most fatal accidents are single-vehicle crashes. And more importantly, the difference between the best and worst vehicles within each size class is often at least as big as the difference between class averages.

    Actually if you look at the IIHS’s death rates, the overarching message is buy either a luxury car, a minivan, or any Toyota.

  • avatar
    niky

    Minivans and Toyotas have low death rates because they don’t encourage aggressive driving.

    The caveat in this case should be that the best small cars are not as safe as the best big cars.

    But they’re certainly as safe, or safer, than the worst big cars.

    I’ve seen lots of deaths in SUV and truck accidents, occuring to the passengers of said SUV/Truck. Simply, extra weight is no substitute for extra crash-worthiness.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    The death rates are normalized for women of a given age group to try to eliminate some of the aggressive driving factor… not all I’m sure, but enough that it’s not just how they’re being driven.

    The Rav4, for example, has a ridiculously low death rate, and I can’t imagine that CR-V or Escape drivers are that different. Besides, we all keep pretending that car enthusiasts are invincible and it’s distracted drivers who get into all the accidents (probably halfway true). By that measure, Toyotas and minivans shouldn’t be doing so well.

    Well said on best small vs. best & worst large.

  • avatar
    JuniorMint

    Can anybody find the speed at which these tests were performed?

    I ask because the Camry’s Simulated Driver fared considerably worse than he did in that car’s solo test…I don’t recall the dummy bottoming out the airbag in the car-vs.-wall test. And we’re talking about the BIGGER car here.

    I can’t imagine why that it would be worse for the Camry driver against a tiny li’l Yaris…unless the IIHS had deliberately increased the speed of the test to exaggerate the damage. But they would never do that! You know, besides their worst-case-scenario Wrecking Ball side-impact test.

    Seriously, I’m making random assumptions here. Can anybody find the actual information? There’s no standardization for “We’re too poor to afford lobbyists” crash-testing.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    You are much safer in a brand new small car than you are in a big, heavy older car. There have been massive advances in safety in just the last few years. Fifth Gear did a test between a brand new Renault compact and a big Volvo wagon from the early ’90s. The Volvo lost the fight, and lost badly. Passengers would’ve been seriously injured, while those in the tiny Renault would’ve walked away.

    That said, I’ll take my A6 over anything else on the road. Quattro plus good brakes plus lots of airbags and some heavy German steel is about as safe as you can get. Sure if a big rig decides to fall on me my number is up no matter what I’m in, but I can count on the A6 to hopefully help me avoid an accident in the first place, and survive one if I have no other choice.

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    Either the embargo was changed to midnight, or you made the whole thing jump the shark because every auto news source is reporting this now, even DetN.

  • avatar
    noreserve

    JuniorMint :
    April 14th, 2009 at 2:36 am

    Can anybody find the speed at which these tests were performed?

    I ask because the Camry’s Simulated Driver fared considerably worse than he did in that car’s solo test…I don’t recall the dummy bottoming out the airbag in the car-vs.-wall test. And we’re talking about the BIGGER car here.

    I can’t imagine why that it would be worse for the Camry driver against a tiny li’l Yaris…

    Funny – the IIHS website has a broken link to the full Status Report. Use the link above for now. It lists that the speed is 40 MPH – same as they do in the offset frontal wall test.

    The Camry fared much better than the Yaris. Read through that one again. That Yaris dummy is feeling a little cramped. As in, I can’t feel my legs.

    The Camry driver went from Good (wall) to Acceptable (against Yaris). Here is their explanation:

    “Another consideration is that, while the Institute’s barrier approximates the front of another car, it
    can’t be designed to mimic the various fronts of hundreds of different cars. This helps explain why
    the Camry performed worse in the test with the Yaris than in the barrier impact that approximated
    a crash with another Camry — something about the Yaris’ front end was more difficult to manage. There’s no getting around the laws of the
    physical universe. The Institute’s new crash
    tests confirm this — again.”

    I think that the IIHS, as usual, is biased toward saving insurance companies money. So we’re going to hear the Nannys out in full force – double-nickel speed limits and so on. They do, however, make a good point about the focus on manufacturers using small vehicles (at the price of sacrificing dummies to Yaris coffins) to push up overall fuel mileage instead of simply making mid to large vehicles more fuel efficient.

    It’s probably a good idea for many of those contemplating the purchase of such a small vehicle to be reminded in cold, hard smash pics of what they are trading in order to save on gas. That’s what this test does. And in the case of the Smart… well, let’s just say that the owners of those little rolling turds have to be ignoring safety and MPG in the quest for attention. Gotta love this line from the test “After striking the front of the C class, the Smart went airborne and turned around 450 degrees.” You’ll get lots of attention with that maneuver. Unfortunately, it will be your last chance in the spotlight.

  • avatar
    andrichrose

    Would it also have anything to do with the fact that
    insurance premiums are generally much higher on
    larger cars than small ones !

    Here in italy the new small cars from Fiat and Renualt
    doe very well in crash tests getting 5 stars , where as
    the behemoths from the States score very badly !

    I think here in europe the public are making the connection
    with the relationship between the type of people
    that generally tend to choose the oversize type
    of vehicle, and shy away , choosing instead smaller
    more compact and well built cars .

    I think the Fiat 500 is the only car here in europe that you still have to go on a waiting list for !

  • avatar
    V6

    i have to admit i am surprised at how much worse the smaller cars peformed. In the Euro NCAP, the Yaris got a full 5 stars and smart 4 stars, the new Fit/Jazz hasn’t been tested but the old model received 4 stars.

    Looking at Autoblog and the before pictures of the Fit, the driver sits pretty much right in the middle of the car, so i found it surprising there was as much cabin intrusion as there was.

    annoyingly, autoblog does not show the ‘after’ pictures of the larger cars like they do for the smaller cars.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    So when is the Semi vs SUV test going to be done ?

    Honestly, it doesn’t take an engineer to figure this out. This has been demonstrated since the 60s and the first compact cars.Duh!!

    Ever wonder where the money went from your insurance premiums and the refused claims after an accident? Right here.

    Yes folks: paid for with your premiums and the money saved by not paying out when you need to be in “good hands” with someone who is like a “good neighbor”.

    I despise this organization.How many millions of miles would one have to drive to replicate the identical conditions of this particular crash test? Or any of them? With the second by second mix of sizes, speeds, road conditions, road surfaces,tire wear and inflation, automobile condition etc etc etc,what are the chances ?

    According to the AAA most deaths in car accidents [[70-80%]are caused by people being too stupid to put on their seat belts.

    Who could have planned for that idiot trucker who wiped out people on the Angeles Crest Highway because he didn’t read the sign that said “No Semis” and because the curves burned out his brakes ? Somewhere some time someone else is going to have a bigger heavier machine than you do. And yours will suffer the same fate as these “unsafe” compacts. If it ever happens at all in your entire lifetime.

    What an incredible waste of time energy resources and money.

  • avatar
    mcs

    They didn’t test bicycles. Now I’ll never know what would have happened if I hadn’t swerved around the rear of the full size van that made a left turn in front of me at the last minute on Sunday. Probably would have revealed how irresponsible bicycle manufacturers are for not putting airbags and side crash protection on their products. Yep, we need 4200 lb bicycles for safety. I would have learned that I’m foolishly trading safety for fuel economy and health.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    A week or two ago, I remember Automobilwoche published an editorial about this very topic.

    I am citing from memory, but their gist was that the IIHS test was nonsensical, because only about 0.5% of fatal accidents occur with two cars crashing at 40MPH and above.

    Of course, it’s safer to drive a big car. It’s also safer to drive a tank. It’s also safer to have body cavity searches performed on everybody who wants to board an airplane. Does it make a difference in adult terms, namely actual deaths per million miles in real-life conditions?

  • avatar
    don1967

    Although this clearly belongs in the “well, duh” file, it doesn’t hurt to remind the average oatmeal-for-brains driver of what happens when vehicles of different sizes collide. It’s not at all like those fixed-barrier simulations, where a car is only pitted against its own weight.

  • avatar
    dwford

    IIHS just exposed the flaw in their own testing! Cars do worse when crashed into other cars than when crashed into a fixed barrier. So what’s the point of the fixed barrier test?

  • avatar
    Kman

    I would have liked to be at the scene described by npbheights

  • avatar
    gcmustanglx

    I wonder what the deal is with the chain on the front of the Yaris? Is it trying to hold the thing together for photos or was something rigged for the test?

  • avatar
    mocktard

    @Paul Niedermeyer

    In Robert Schwartz’s defense, he did mention his Accord is a 2002 (approx 3000lb), which is a good deal smaller than the 2008+ Accord (up to 3600lb). A 1967 LeSabre was over two tons.

    To your credit, the new Accord is almost twice as heavy as a first-gen, 1976 Accord (2000lb).

  • avatar
    noreserve

    DweezilSFV :
    I despise this organization.How many millions of miles would one have to drive to replicate the identical conditions of this particular crash test? Or any of them? With the second by second mix of sizes, speeds, road conditions, road surfaces,tire wear and inflation, automobile condition etc etc etc,what are the chances ?

    Yes, this organization has an agenda – to save the insurance companies money on premiums paid out. They have an informational campaign to highlight vehicle safety. No surprise there. But be realistic – the EuroNCAP testing does basically the same offset test at 40 MPH. No one is bashing them for being in the hands of insurance companies or for selecting the types of tests that they do. Why not? If EuroNCAP is doing the same test, don’t you think it has relevance in real-world driving? Of course it does.

    The offset crash simulation is performed because cars in the real world often crash in this very manner. How rare is it to drive on a two-lane rural road and have two vehicles collide? Or suburbia? Why does it seem so inconceivable? In fact, 40 MPH is on the low end of most speeds on these type of roads. One moment of inattentiveness from the oncoming driver and a slight veer of the steering wheel is all it takes to end up in my lane.

    I’m glad that we have these organizations doing testing. I look past the agenda from the IIHS because I know that they compliment the NHTSA testing and provide information that can be used to determine whether I might pick one model over another.

    I doubt we would see half of the life-saving safety advances if it weren’t for these agencies highlighting and researching them. The manufacturers usually resist them because of added cost that they think will make them uncompetitive. Some will innovate (Mercedes, BMW, Volvo, etc.) but most will only move to implement these safety systems when prodded by the government. The government is going to usually prod based on this type of research out of these organizations. Or they will find ridiculous and even unsafe ways to circumvent the regulations – the motorized seatbelts come to mind.

    Agenda or not, the tests are consistent and well-documented. They aren’t going to be able to duplicate real-world conditions, but they can simulate them. Better than nothing. They will also expose structural weaknesses that would be difficult for the average consumer to gather data on. Look at the recent roof strength tests. I guarantee you that Kia is scrambling to shore up their weak performance in this area.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    The study implied that because SUVs and trucks are offered along with small cars this puts the small car at increased risk. SO if we only bought cars within a weight or size range all would be well.

    Sure. Just remove Semis and Buses from the road along with fixed objects at the edge and everything will be just fine.

    There was this program on the tube a while back where a proponent of small cars with crumple zones was up against a large vehicle with strong frame advocate. The analogy used by Small Car Guy was would you rather wear a steel plate on your head or 3 feet of foam if a large weight was to fall you. The Big Car Guy was too stupid to point out that foam and crumple zones are great as long as you have enough. As soon as the designed damage runs out you are at the mercy of the crash. The other problem with that comparo is you are not moving. I’d rather have some weight on my side in a crash.

    Mercedes pioneered the crumple zone in their cars, tanks that weighed enough to fight back in an accident. It was never supposed to be a substitute for substance.

    Our parents always wanted us in “tanks” for our first car, not crumple cars.

  • avatar
    RickCanadian

    Conclusion: I will trade my subcompact Toyota for an M1A2 Abrams. Only way to be really safe. Does anyone know a tank dealer?

  • avatar
    geeber

    What’s old is new again…I can remember when Gremlins and Vegas were being crashed into Ambassadors and Impalas.

    This is supposed to be news…?

  • avatar

    Put 2 factions of CAFE and IIHS people in a room and see who comes out alive.

  • avatar
    analyst

    What a stupid “study”.

    1. Most crashes are single vehicle; where a larger and heavier car is less safe than a small car.

    2. Larger cars are harder to handle and brake; which means it’s harder to prevent an accident. Active safety > Passive safety.

    3. Higher rollover rates for vehicles with higher center of gravity.

    This is a wrong in so many levels; just made to perpetuate the (wrong) perception that bigger cars are safer. Fatality rates in Europe, where the average car is much smaller than in the US, are lower than in the US.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The solution should be obvious: get more people into lighter cars.

    The IIHS isn’t necessarily favouring heavier vehicles, but parity amongst vehicles. Currently, we have a pretty serious spread between cars like the Yaris (2300lbs) and, ahem, cars like the Tahoe (5600lbs). Getting that differential down would make the IIHS feel a lot better

    That way, all we’d have to worry about is Yaris on Yaris action.

  • avatar
    LXbuilder

    1. Most crashes are single vehicle; where a larger and heavier car is less safe than a small car.

    Really?

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Re: Bicycle riding relative safety

    Various computations put the deaths per mile traveled figure for bicycles in the US at somewhere between 3.4x to 11.5x as likely to die as motorists, per passenger mile.

    http://bicycleuniverse.info/transpo/almanac-safety.html

    Obviously, rider skill and attention to detail are huge factors. However, judging by the riders I see on our local roads (especially when Specialized Bikes is on lunch break!), poor riding practices are common.

  • avatar
    analyst

    @ LXBuilder:

    > Really?

    Yes. The energy dissipated in a crash is directly proportional to the mass (weight) of your vehicle (E = 0.5 * m * v^2). So, when a heavy car hits a wall for example, all that weight works against it.

    • 0 avatar
      AnUnidentifiedMale

      That’s not correct. As the IIHS has pointed out, even in single-vehicle crashes, you’re better off in a heavier vehicle. If you run into a wall or a lamppost, a heavier vehicle is more likely to move those objects than a lighter vehicle, dissipating the force of the crash. You’re assuming that the wall is made of steel or is completely immovable. This is usually not the case.

  • avatar
    superbadd75

    More mass wins, why was that so hard to figure out?

  • avatar
    tedward

    So they didn’t test the compacts against the same large sedan because….

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    We are all going to die!

    Get used to the idea already.

    Old age, sickness and death, here they come!

    I’d rather live life free and to the fullest rather than live in a figurative padded cell fooling myself into thinking I am avoiding the inevitable.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Obviously, rider skill and attention to detail are huge factors. However, judging by the riders I see on our local roads (especially when Specialized Bikes is on lunch break!), poor riding practices are common.

    When I lived in Toronto, I was amazed at the amount of testosterone sloshing around in the average bike courier. These guys would cross lanes with impunity (and without signalling), cut off cars, run down pedestrians, ignore signals, etc.

    It bugged me because I biked to work every day and the attitude of many cyclists actually made it harder for the rest of us to get reasonable treatment from motorists. The default mode for cyclist/motorist interaction is “Angry”.

    Now I’ve been in four accidents (struck by people turning rights, 3 times; doored by someone exiting a parked car: once) and as such I will say that motorists need to pay more attention, but cyclists need to realize that a) they’re road users and have to obey road rules and b) they don’t have force-fields.

  • avatar
    noreserve

    analyst :
    April 14th, 2009 at 9:09 am

    @ LXBuilder:

    > Really?

    Yes. The energy dissipated in a crash is directly proportional to the mass (weight) of your vehicle (E = 0.5 * m * v^2). So, when a heavy car hits a wall for example, all that weight works against it.

    This doesn’t hold up in safety terms. A heavier car is usually going to be larger, hence more crush space. If crumple zones and attention to structural integrity are equal, the larger car is going to usually win whether it hits a wall, another vehicle, a pole or something else. There is more space to crumple and time to decelerate.

    There is a clip somewhere of the Smart being crashed into a concrete wall at around 60 MPH. The car’s structure held up pretty well, considering. The g-forces would have been fatal, however. Can’t get around the deceleration part.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    When crashing against a wall, more crush space will help, but more weight won’t. More weight just means your too-late braking won’t slow you down as much and it’ll work your crumple zones harder. Basically, I agree with analyst.

  • avatar
    able

    Just how important is mass vs. engineering?

    Check out Volvo 940 wagon vs. Renault Modus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3ygYUYia9I

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    @analyst
    Fatality rates in Europe, where the average car is much smaller than in the US, are lower than in the US.

    Do you have a citation for that assertion? Please use passenger miles/kms, not per capita.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Detroit Iron:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death_rate

    Road fatalities per 1 billion vehicle-km:

    Sweden 5.9
    Switzerland 5.9
    Great Britain 6.3
    Finland 6.4
    Norway 6.5
    Germany 7.4
    Denmark 7.7
    Netherlands 7.7
    Australia 7.9
    France 8.5
    Austria 8.9
    USA 9.0

  • avatar
    GS650G

    This is all fun until regulations appear mandating what you travel in. If you think that can’t happen you are not paying attention.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Fatality rates can’t really be compared. Driver licensing habits, speeds, age of cars on the road, etc, too many variables.

    Its like saying the US should get rid of speed limits on the autobahn because it won’t affect death rates. Might be true, but might not be. Germans have more training, drive newer, better, safer cars. The US doesn’t have that, so can we really compare statistics between the two countries?

    Why didn’t they crash a Sequoia into a Yaris? Or maybe a Ford F450 into a Focus? That would have shown us in even better detail than these tests did.

    Ridiculous.

  • avatar
    mikeolan

    Before all of you “If we all drove small cars we’d be safer” folks chime in, remember that in a small car your head is a lot closer to the edge of the vehicle, increasing the likelihood of head trauma. You’re also more likely to be hit by g-forces, and on top of that, almost-everyone driving smaller cars doesn’t mean EVERYONE is going to drive smaller cars. Let’s remind you people in Europe drive Lagunas, S-Classes, and Mondeos too.

    And that inertia can work as much to your favor as it can against it. Simply pretending that by having a smaller car you’ll be able to outmaneuver anything (in a Yaris? Smart? C’mon, those cars handle horribly) , doesn’t work.

    Last month I witnessed an accident involving a Honda Fit that ran a red light and was broads ided by a Chevy Tahoe. The Honda Fit owner is dead.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    USA 9
    Canada 9.2
    Israel 9.6
    New Zealand 10.1
    Japan 10.3
    Iceland 10.9
    Ireland 10.9
    Belgium 11.1

    What is a “Vehicle km”? vs. “Passenger km”

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Jerome, I have to agree with you. Germans drive safer cars than Americans do, i.e. not so many SUVs, and that influences traffic fatality statistics.

  • avatar
    rofldave

    I always wondered what would happen if the military ever sold surplus LAV-25s or Stryker APCs… (both are street-legal, I think)

    I’m sure that every family that could afford one would buy one. 17 tons of safety!

    Then again, this is 2009…

  • avatar
    210delray

    Yes, it’s not easy to compare fatality rates by country. So many variables are in play: minimum age of licensure, average age of cars, mileage driven annually, seat belt use, speed limits, road types (freeways vs. 2-lanes), congestion, stringency and enforcement of traffic laws, intoxication levels and rates, timeliness of emergency response, and so on.

    Someone mentioned the chains in the photo of the Yaris. Crash test cars obviously are not driven by the test dummies; they have to be towed in neutral down a runway with a cable system. Typically, hooks are welded to the lower control arms of the test car, and chains are attached between these hooks and a breakaway fixture attached to the cable. Just before impact the chains break away from the fixture allowing the car to continue on to impact under its own momentum. The chains add very little weight to the car compared to the dummies and onboard cameras and test equipment.

    Someone else asked why not an F-150 into a Smart. Well, the point is made very well by just testing midsize cars into minicars, AND you don’t have the extra complication of mismatch in frame heights.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Force equals mass times velocity squared.

    There is no such thing as a free lucnch.

    The drivers of each vehicle type pay insurance which reflects the cost of the damage they incur.

    There are currently no plans to limit weight of vehicles on the road below current levels.

    What are you going to do? If you are concerned about safety, you buy a vehicle that will protect you. Trying to outlaw SUV’s and pickups WILL NOT WORK. The result will simply be more large cars, and more deaths because all the people being saved by SUV’s won’t be.

    That’s really about all anyone can do, except the government who really ought to look at ticketing more drivers for failure to signal, tailgating, poor lane discipline, etc.

    Europe is no comparison at all, there are many other factors than less SUV’s.

  • avatar
    davey49

    From what I understand regarding German traffic laws is that yes there are speed unrestricted roads, but in towns and cities the speeds are highly restricted and limits are enforced. If a sign says 50kph, you better be going 50kph.
    Plus every time I see a report about “driving the Autobahn” on TV the roads look awfully crowded. Probably easier to drive at excessive speeds in Montana, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming. Even if you take your chances with the law.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    What are you going to do? If you are concerned about safety, you buy a vehicle that will protect you. Trying to outlaw SUV’s and pickups WILL NOT WORK. The result will simply be more large cars, and more deaths because all the people being saved by SUV’s won’t be.…

    Conversely, one could argue that deaths will go down because of all those that are not killed by SUV’s. That said, an educated consumer should consider buying the safest vehicle that suits their needs, whether that means a small car or a Suburban. “Outlawing” a vehicle type is a stupid idea. If a given type of vehicle no longer suits enough people, it will disappear, just like the 2 door “personal luxury coupe” of the 70’s did. You just have to live with the ramifications of your choice, and not be a hypocrite about it.

    carlisimo: Interesting that you brought up the Rav4. IIRC, the death rate in an Excursion was almost five times that of the Rav. Obviously there is a lot more in play here than just mass. Seems that the real problems are the extremes – really small and so large that it borders on vulgar. I wonder in what manner Excursions are being operated that drives their death rates up so high…

  • avatar
    wsn

    Landcrusher :
    April 14th, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Force equals mass times velocity squared.

    ————————————-

    You sure you didn’t mix kinetic energy with force?

  • avatar
    wsn

    # golden2husky :
    April 14th, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    If a given type of vehicle no longer suits enough people, it will disappear, just like the 2 door “personal luxury coupe” of the 70’s did.

    —————————–

    Not happening any more, with all the bailout and job protection.

  • avatar
    niky

    noreserve:

    I think that the IIHS, as usual, is biased toward saving insurance companies money. So we’re going to hear the Nannys out in full force – double-nickel speed limits and so on. They do, however, make a good point about the focus on manufacturers using small vehicles (at the price of sacrificing dummies to Yaris coffins) to push up overall fuel mileage instead of simply making mid to large vehicles more fuel efficient.

    Don’t work. Having driven European and Japanese-market metal with smaller engines than their American-market counterparts, all the while testing fuel economy against my GPS via full-tank to full-tank tests, I can safely say that while big cars with smaller engines (which increases cruising economy and idling economy) are technically more economical than their big-engined counterparts, there’s a limit to how much more economical you can make a big car after you’ve given it the best gearing and the most economical engine you can find. More weight = more fuel usage in the real world and traffic, whatever EPA highway numbers may tell you.

    Without the use of more sophisticated lean-burn strategies, which won’t work in the US due to NOx regulations, it’s very hard to eke much more out of current engines without making them prohibitively expensive and complicated.

    golden2husky

    carlisimo: Interesting that you brought up the Rav4. IIRC, the death rate in an Excursion was almost five times that of the Rav. Obviously there is a lot more in play here than just mass. Seems that the real problems are the extremes – really small and so large that it borders on vulgar. I wonder in what manner Excursions are being operated that drives their death rates up so high…

    Again… best of the big versus the worst… the RAV4 has much better handling, braking, resistance to roll-overs, etcetera… it has a relatively light engine (and is relatively light, overall) and more of its mass is given over to crash structure than the Excursion, which has a lot of its mass in the engine, the heavy ladder frame (which doesn’t really do much to protect your head in a crash, as it doesn’t wrap around and reinforce the upper portion of the vehicle’s body, and the running gear… Make the Excursion lighter and lower, with an aluminum monocoque with better crash structure, lighter drivetrain parts and etcetera… and it would probably be the safest vehicle on the road. Of course, it would then be rubbish off-road, and off-roading is why we buy SUVs… right?

    Right?

    Also, having driven the RAV4 and the CR-V back to back,… I believe the Honda is more encouraging of hooliganism… in fact, all Hondas are. Toyotas, you just drive. No matter how similar any Toyota may be to a Honda on paper, there’s no denying that they appeal to slightly different demographics.

  • avatar
    juan70ahr

    What has happened to basic journalism and research? There is a difference between a safety test in a lab and what actually happens on the road due to drivers and road conditions. If you were to go to the web sites for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (please look at source information) or the US Dept of Transportation, you’d see that the actual highway data demonstrates pickup trucks are the most dangerous vehicles on the road. With a death rate of 93 points, 12 points above a mini passenger car and 31 points above a midsize car.
    http://www.iihs.org/research/fatality_facts_2007/occupants.html
    Are SUV’s safer? – Current “on the ground” data supports that but not by much. However, data from 1978 to 2004 shows that occupant deaths per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old were either worse or equivalent between SUV’s and passenger cars. Yes, that means that in 2002-2003 a passanger was just as likely to die in a new SUV as in a new passenger car. Now that stat goes beyond the lab test.
    If you would like to hire me as a reporter, fact checker, or data analyst don’t hesitate to e-mail me before you post a meaningless report that encourages irrational consumer behavior.

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