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  1. Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Just read article by James R. Healey of USA TODAY:

    Americans are buying more small cars to cut fuel costs, and that might kill them.

    As a group, occupants of small cars are more likely to die in crashes than those in bigger, heavier vehicles are, according to data from the government, the insurance industry and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

    The newest small vehicles, of course, meet today's strict safety standards and can be laden with the latest safety hardware, such as stability control and side air bags. They are safer than ever. And differing designs mean some small cars are safer than average. But even the safest are governed by the laws of physics, which rule in favor of bigger, heavier vehicles, even in single-vehicle crashes.

    TELL US: Do you think smaller cars are too big a price to pay for better fuel economy?

    People are looking for ways to save fuel, and they need to know that if they decide to buy a much smaller vehicle, they are putting themselves and their families at risk," says Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. IIHS, supported by auto insurance companies, follows traffic deaths closely.

    Lund was on an NAS panel that examined potential safety impacts and other consequences of stricter fuel-economy regulations. The panel's report, published in 2002, noted that there are safe, cost-effective ways to boost mileage, but cutting the size and weight of vehicles is not one of them. Years of statistics show that small cars "are involved in more collisions than larger vehicles," and "Small vehicles have higher fatality rates than larger ones," the NAS report said.

    When the NAS report was published, small-car sales were 13.7% of the new-vehicle market, and dropping. Today, they have climbed to 15.4%.

    Selling better this year

    Small cars are the only cars selling better this year than last. In fact, they are the only vehicles of any kind, except SUVs, doing better in a new-vehicle market that's down 3.2% from a year ago, according to sales tracker Autodata. Small-car sales are up 0.2% this year from a year ago.

    Sales and registration data show that small cars ? what most people call compacts and subcompacts, such as Civic, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Mazda3, Nissan Sentra, Chevrolet Cobalt and smaller ? are about 14% of vehicles on the road. But they accounted for nearly 24% of occupants killed in one- and two-vehicle crashes in 2005, the latest year for which specific information is available.

    Crashes involving three or more vehicles, which accounted for 7% of fatalities, are excluded from this analysis because the number of vehicles involved in those crashes makes it impossible to determine the fatal contribution of each. Deaths of pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders and others who weren't riding in vehicles, 13% of the total, also are excluded.

    Even when you adjust for the typically younger and less-experienced drivers often behind the wheel in small cars and focus even more tightly by counting only driver deaths, the statistics still are troubling.

    A driver is up to twice as likely to die in a small car as in a midsize, just one step up the size scale, according to IIHS data. A 2003 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report showed similar results.

    But you can't simply buy a big, heavy vehicle and assume you're safe. Studies show that extra weight does little or no good after about 4,500 pounds, roughly the weight of a minivan or midsize SUV. And the heaviest vehicles, full-size pickups, have driver death rates about the same as small cars.

    Small cars can be made safer, but that can boost the price and cut the mileage, undermining the reasons for buying a small car in the first place.

    "One of the safest vehicles is the VW Jetta, and it's a relatively small vehicle. VW has designed it very carefully ? and charges for it," says Marc Ross, professor emeritus in the physics department at the University of Michigan. He's written a number of papers on small cars and safety.

    Volkswagens, in general, he says, "tend to be safe, but they are heavier and get lower fuel economy. If you improve safety, you make a vehicle heavier, at least with today's technology."

    Jetta, a compact, weighs more than 3,200 pounds, the same as a midsize car and about 500 pounds more than a typical compact. The weight of its safety hardware and extra-robust structure drags Jetta's mileage per gallon into the mid-20s in combined city-highway driving, same as a midsize car and about 5 mpg less than a typical compact. And Jetta's starting price of $17,000 is about $2,000 more than other popular compacts.

    "There are lots of answers" to the question of small-car safety, Ross says. "There just aren't any simple ones."

    A June report by a group called the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) includes some data from Ross and co-author Tom Wenzel of the U.S. Energy Department's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. That Ross-Wenzel data show that drivers of the safest small cars are only 13% to 15% more likely to die in crashes than drivers of midsize and full-size cars are. But the chart also shows that the least-safe small cars are at least 90% more dangerous than midsize and full-size cars, meaning the driver is almost twice as likely to be killed.

    "If you say light cars are more dangerous, in an average sense they are, and some are much more dangerous," Ross says.
    But the automakers themselves dispute that.

    "We have never made such a statement. Safety is important, but we have never contended that (smaller, lighter vehicles) are at the same level of occupant protection as large vehicles. There are laws of physics involved," says Keith Price, VW's U.S. spokesman. "A 2,000-pound (VW) Rabbit against a 6,000-pound Hummer ? well, it's going to be the 6,000-pound Hummer."

    "All else being equal, large will trump small," Honda Vice President Ed Cohen said when the ICCT report was released.

    There's no single index to the overall safety of small cars, or any vehicles, but several lists are useful. Ross favors the driver death rates published periodically by IIHS in "Status Report" updates at Crash-test scores published by NHTSA ( and by IIHS can help you weed out the flimsiest vehicles and those with the poorest designs and least-effective safety features.

    "If you drive responsibly, you should be safe in a small car," says NHTSA spokesman Rae Tyson. "The important thing is that consumers have a choice. If they want to buy big cars, they should be able to do that. If they want to buy small cars, they should be able to do that, too."

    Chris Garlington, 28, a Los Angeles photographer, bought a Toyota Matrix last month, partly because it had room for his photo gear and partly because it was the biggest of the low-price, fuel-saving small cars he was considering.

    "I figured I should get the largest I can afford," Garlington says. "That's what they recommend at (shopping service) Fighting Chance, to get the biggest vehicle within the class that you can, for safety."

    Matrix scores well in most NHTSA categories but requires the optional side air bags for a good score in side-crash tests.

    Often heard is that small cars' agility lets them avoid crashes. But the NAS report found no data to back that up.

    And the 2003 NHTSA report written by Charles Kahane, whose size-vs.-safety studies often are cited in other safety reports, went further. Kahane suggested, "Small cars, because they felt more maneuverable, might even have induced drivers to weave in traffic or take other risks they would ordinarily have avoided in a larger vehicle."

    The deadly potential of small cars isn't, as many people presume, because SUVs crash into them. Just one of every 11 people ? 9% ? who died in small cars died as the result of collisions with SUVs, NHTSA data show.

    By contrast, 53% of small-car deaths in 2005 involved only small cars. Either a single small car crashed into something such as a guardrail or tree or two small cars crashed into each other, according to the NHTSA data.

    Back in the '80s

    Small cars' zenith was 1981. Americans still were smarting over petroleum shortages, rationing and record prices after two oil embargoes by Middle East nations in the 1970s. The government had imposed the first fuel-economy regulations. As a result, small cars were 37.7% of the new-vehicle market in '81 ? a bigger slice than, for example, the 28.8% that SUVs have today.

    The lower prices and better mileage of small cars are alluring. But the statistics defining their safety trade-offs are striking.

    In its publication about buying a safer car, IIHS lists its "Top Safety Pick" in each size category.

    Under small cars, instead of naming two or three high-scoring models, IIHS declares: "No winners."

  2. Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Pure bull.

    Simply because:

    And the 2003 NHTSA report written by Charles Kahane, whose size-vs.-safety studies often are cited in other safety reports, went further. Kahane suggested, "Small cars, because they felt more maneuverable, might even have induced drivers to weave in traffic or take other risks they would ordinarily have avoided in a larger vehicle."
    And it goes further.

    Note: why are more Vioses involved in accidents than Corollas?

    Because they're small, and they're cheap. They appeal to young drivers who are more likely to take risks and get into accidents. Same goes with scooters. Yes, scooters are inherently less safe than cars, but the high fatality rate is mostly because they're cheap and appeal to younger or less experienced motorists, who are more likely to take risks and crash.

    Does that mean you can't be safe on a scooter? No. If you're a responsible rider, you can get through, just fine.

    If you don't segregate results by age and social profile, you fail to delineate the differences in who buys these vehicles.

    Minivans and midsize SUVs have lower fatality rates... obviously... these are vehicles that appeal to middle-aged women and housewives more (no offense to anyone with a minivan)... drivers who are less prone to risk-taking and who are more safety-conscious.

    Large SUVs appeal more to men... more aggressive drivers... and thus fatality rates are higher.

    Taking one factor in the statistics and ignoring all others can lead you to make some pretty silly assumptions.

    Ang pagbalik ng comeback...

  3. Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Objectively, small cars are still not compatible with large SUVs. Even if there are standards to make cars more crash-compatible (bumpers of small cars hit bumpers of SUV's), this is in an ideal world and we all know anything can happen. My friend's car was just totaled because somebody ran a red light and he slammed into him. My friend is OK, had some cuts and bruises on the right arm but his '01 Accord is a wreck. This was average city driving speeds of 40mph/60kph.

    I have seen crash tests done with SUV's and small cars, even two identical cars but one is much more loaded and so sits 1 inch lower. The result is that the lower car will suffer more damage. The risk with the large vehicle is that it will have a higher chance of roll over. Imagine your car rolling over a couple of times with your arms flailing out of the windows and possibly getting broken once your car lands on its roof with your arms out the window.

    The problem there sa atin is that some of the older cars that many people drive (late 1980's to mid 1990's) don't really have bumpers. They just have a trim to look like a bumper. The "bumpers" are just attached to the frame without any solid beam to protect the occupants in a collision. I guess the newer ones already have these but if you have the older cars, take a look and you will see nothing under that bumper. Here in the US those bumpers are filled with styrofoam which is strong, light and tough enough. Our US version 1992 Corolla has this, but our 1999 Civic there in Manila has nothing behind those bumpers. I guess this is the result of going with really basic, base-model cars.

    Don't start me with teenage drivers. I get a lot of them here especially when looking for parking in school. They basically think everything is always a race and they have to drive aggressively.

  4. Join Date
    Jun 2006
    if a volvo 940 estate collide head on with a renault modus, which one would you prefer to be in?


  5. Join Date
    Jan 2007
    compact = greater chance of not surviving an impact.buong oto crumple zone.

  6. Join Date
    Mar 2005
    compact = sa compartment ka pupulitin pagkatapos ng impact

  7. Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Chuaed, good video. However I wonder how the G-forces affected the passengers of both cars. I thought it was a full frontal collision like Tom said, but it's actually an offset collision which puts greater energy on one side of the car.

    See the other videos from 5th gear:

    BMW vs Volvo * 60mph
    [ame=""]YouTube - 60 mph head on crash[/ame]

    SUV vs Car * 40mph side impact
    [ame=""]YouTube - SUV crashes car - Fifth Gear Test Experiment[/ame]

    Smart car into concrete barrier * 70mph
    [ame=""]YouTube - Fifth Gear Smart Car Crash Test[/ame]

    SUV vs van
    [ame=""]YouTube - Discovery 2 vs Espace Crash Test[/ame]

    High speed crash test * 70mph Tiff Needell
    [ame=""]YouTube - Highway High Speed Crash Test[/ame]

    Limousine crash test * 50mph into concrete wall
    [ame=""]YouTube - Fifth Gear - Limousine crash test[/ame]

    Car that's been in an accident, repaired, and sold, and then crashed again
    [ame=""]YouTube - Fifth Gear Crash Test Badly Repaired vs Good[/ame]
    Last edited by mbeige; October 6th, 2007 at 11:06 AM.

  8. Join Date
    Jun 2007
    wow amazing!

  9. Join Date
    Oct 2002
    If that article is completely true, how come most of the worst safety rating automobiles come from SUVs hehe.

    Haven't seen the videos posted in this thread, but have you seen the crash tests (real-life, not simulated) done in Europe for the SMART car, A-series Benz, etc? It's amazing.

    SUVs are the worse when it comes to crash safety, the larger they are, the worse they get.
    Last edited by theveed; October 6th, 2007 at 11:21 AM.

  10. Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Theveed, the Smart car video * 70mph into a concrete wall is posted here.

    Those with Kia Prides, Daihatsu Charades, and all the other small compact/subcompact hatchbacks I hope you see what could happen and I hope you'll never have to experience these in real life.

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Compact cars unsafe?