10/29/2004

Mid-size Sedans or Tanks?

When you drive your car down the road do you ever think about what might happen if somebody collided with you? Does your car have the necessary safety features to keep you alive? Most studies you see about car safety tests demonstrate what might happen in a head on collision, but according to an article I read on Dateline NBC, “The risk of dying or being seriously injured, if you're struck in the side right where you're sitting is much higher than the typical frontal crash.”

The article reports on an IIHS side impact crash test results study. This study smashed different mid-sized sedans with a simulated SUV force on the driver's side of the car. Most of the cars tested didn't receive very good marks, implying that today's cars are not safe enough. Studies like this can really hurt the image that a car company may be trying to portay. The only way the company can keep its image is to spend more money trying to make its car more safe. Should we really have these types of programs that show us how unsafe our cars are? In my opinion we shouldn't.

The entire notion of trying to make cars safer reminds me about the "seat belts cause more accidents" scenario. If we make our cars more and more safer, we will begin to drive more and more unsafely. Where does it all stop? Before you know it the only way to get to work safely will be to drive a tank there.

7 comments:

Callie said...

I think that cars should be tested for saftey to a point; make sure the airbags, seatbelts, and other basic stuff work. I don't know the specifics, but I do know that if I get hit on the side where I'm sitting, the risk of my dying or being hurt is obviously going to increase. Hello! That's like saying you are more likely to get a concussion if you're hit on the head by a baseball bat, rather than the arm. I believe that most rational consumers are aware of the risks we take when we get in our cars.

John West said...

Car manufacturers are continually trying to improve on safety issues. It is not a bad thing if they make them safer. That safety factor could save many lives. I'm not a big proponent of the notion that people drive any differently if they are in a safer vehicle. Even if they did, wouldn't it be better to be in a safer car if your the one hit by them. They are many sides to this issue. Anyway's, car manufactures are not just thinking of you and I when they make them safer, what they are thinking about are their sales. An unsafe car will never be touched in the marketplace.

Bruce Banner said...

Safety is a good thing over all. For a automobile manufacture, the safer the vehicle the more sales they will have. Would you drive an unsafe car? On the other hand, because you are in a safer car, would you let your guard down and do not pay attention as much?

Safety is like the seat belt senario.

Bryce Larkin said...

I understand the point on the seat belt but since every car has one, it has saved more lives. I think car companies should show the impact of the side of the car. It would make people more concerned with the safety of the car they drive.

Bryce Larkin said...

I also think there are more people that have a car and drive a car than before the seat belt law was enforced. This could be another reason for more accidents. On the other hand, I understand it is an incentive to drive more recklessly with a seat belt, but there are also benefits.

Maudi said...

I agree todays cars are plenty safe it is the drivers who are not. All of us are guilty at one time or another of driving to fast. The cars today are only as safe as the driver. If the driver knows that the car is supposed to be safe they get a false sense of security. Therefore they go faster and drive more wrecklessly. I think people need to realize that 90% of accidents could be avoided through good old fashioned defensive driving. It matters not the measure of safty in the car but, rather the saftey in the driver.

Dr. Tufte said...

I like where this discussion is going. We do need to make a distinction between safety improvements that make you feel safer versus those that just make you safer.

Seatbelts cause hazardous driving because they make you feel safer. I don't think that airbags or structural improvements affect your behavior as much, because you can't feel them in an obvious way.

But clearly, automakers have figured out that people will pay for safety advances.