Safety of Small Cars

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 Originally Posted By: lovcom
The German autobahns are safe more because of the who the germans are, their demeanor, mentality, adherent to safety, logic, and precesion.
We German are Vulcans without pointy ears.
 
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Steady everyone... Sunday night, I got a vivid reminder that it's not "speed" that kills, but rather, "relative speed". As described in my "venting about being vandalized" thread, I had to drive home from New Orleans (~200 miles to Pensacola), at 50-55 mph because that's as fast as I could go without having the wind blast suck my impromptu patch out of my shattered passenger window. This drive is 97.5% I-10 east, through LA, MS, AL, and then home to FL. I felt like a super-vulnerable target the whole way, with cars blasting past me often doing more than 30 mph faster than I was. On several occasions, I prepared to swerve for the breakdown lane, wondering the fool barreling down on me would figure out that I was traveling slowly. I don't like the driving with flashers thing, but I put them on several times to get attention when needed. High speeds (within some semblance of reason) are perfectly safe, especially if everyone is at about the same speed. Low speeds can be drastically dangerous if the low speed car is an unexpected obstruction to the rest of traffic flow.
 
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 Originally Posted By: ekpolk
Steady everyone... Sunday night, I got a vivid reminder that it's not "speed" that kills, but rather, "relative speed". As described in my "venting about being vandalized" thread, I had to drive home from New Orleans (~200 miles to Pensacola), at 50-55 mph because that's as fast as I could go without having the wind blast suck my impromptu patch out of my shattered passenger window. This drive is 97.5% I-10 east, through LA, MS, AL, and then home to FL. I felt like a super-vulnerable target the whole way, with cars blasting past me often doing more than 30 mph faster than I was. On several occasions, I prepared to swerve for the breakdown lane, wondering the fool barreling down on me would figure out that I was traveling slowly. I don't like the driving with flashers thing, but I put them on several times to get attention when needed. High speeds (within some semblance of reason) are perfectly safe, especially if everyone is at about the same speed. Low speeds can be drastically dangerous if the low speed car is an unexpected obstruction to the rest of traffic flow.
You couldn't just say "It depends"?
 
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 Originally Posted By: ekpolk
This drive is 97.5% I-10 east, through LA, MS, AL, and then home to FL. I felt like a super-vulnerable target the whole way, with cars blasting past me often doing more than 30 mph faster than I was.
What about US90? If you were limited to 50-55MPH that may have been a better road to use. (I routinely see people driving on I95 with mattresses on their roof or other things that prevent them from driving at the speed limit. They should be using US1 instead).
 
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When Oregon went to the Rose Bowl a few years back the local paper had recommendations for people driving down there; just accept the fact that people down there are better drivers as they drive more often at higher speeds in heavier traffic, just stay out of the fast lane, move over if someone is sitting on you, etc. Having lived in SoCal for 20 years, almost all the time on sport bikes, it's also good recomendation for people from SoCal going to Europe. People in the US have a very Ptolemic view of the world where they think that everything revolves them, all the way down to their driver's seat. They tool down the road fiddling with CDs/radio/DVDs/MP#/GPS/cell phones while munching on Whoppers and sipping Starbucks, with a tunnel vision perspective of what's happening around them as they change into the #1 lane while almost doing the speed limit. It's 'their road' and everyone should stay out of 'their way'.
 
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Quote; The Auto Pistas of Italy, the freeways of Spain, and France, often just as well made as the Germen autobahns, those other countries do NOT show the low fatalities and accidents of their German cousins. I think culture, and traits of a population come into play much more then you think] I will have to agree here, I have recently been driving in Denmark, France and Spain, there was a marked difference in the behaviour of motorists, regardless of road conditions or speed. I also remember driving for the first time in North America (I'm originally from the U.K.) I could not get used to the inconsistency of motorists, Old folk driving 20 under the limit and virtually stopping before turning a corner, Hot headed Boy Racers, Moms giving 90% of there attention to the baby in the back seat. I found a trip into town more stressful than a commute across greater London in rush hour! I remember about 15 years ago, a lady asked me if she should get a new car equipped with ABS or Airbags? I suggested that her money might be better spent on some advanced driver education! I think she took this as an insult.
 
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 Originally Posted By: Black Bart
Try this park your little 5 star econobox and hit it in the driver door at 55 mph with a F250 4x4 and then come back and tell me how well that little piece of tin in the door that is call a side impact bar held up.
Side impacts are not necessarily a good example. I doubt you would fair too well in the F250 under reverse circumstances.
 
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 Originally Posted By: 1sttruck
When Oregon went to the Rose Bowl a few years back the local paper had recommendations for people driving down there; just accept the fact that people down there are better drivers as they drive more often at higher speeds in heavier traffic, just stay out of the fast lane, move over if someone is sitting on you, etc. Having lived in SoCal for 20 years, almost all the time on sport bikes, it's also good recomendation for people from SoCal going to Europe. People in the US have a very Ptolemic view of the world where they think that everything revolves them, all the way down to their driver's seat. They tool down the road fiddling with CDs/radio/DVDs/MP#/GPS/cell phones while munching on Whoppers and sipping Starbucks, with a tunnel vision perspective of what's happening around them as they change into the #1 lane while almost doing the speed limit. It's 'their road' and everyone should stay out of 'their way'.
I agree except ,everything should revolve around us thanks to our politicians who have redistributed our wealth around the world. Who cares what the socialist whining europeans think about us..They can't even win a war with out the sacrifice and $$$ of the U.S people.
 
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 Originally Posted By: ekpolk
High speeds (within some semblance of reason) are perfectly safe, especially if everyone is at about the same speed. Low speeds can be drastically dangerous if the low speed car is an unexpected obstruction to the rest of traffic flow.
With a semblance of lane discipline (ie passing ONLY in fast lane and slower traffic staying in slow lane), traffic could move efficiently with only two lanes in each direction. With a semblance of driver education, there hardly would exist such a thing as "an unexpected obstruction." It comes down to driver training and enforcing existing rules.
 
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 Originally Posted By: brianl703
 Originally Posted By: ekpolk
This drive is 97.5% I-10 east, through LA, MS, AL, and then home to FL. I felt like a super-vulnerable target the whole way, with cars blasting past me often doing more than 30 mph faster than I was.
What about US90? If you were limited to 50-55MPH that may have been a better road to use. (I routinely see people driving on I95 with mattresses on their roof or other things that prevent them from driving at the speed limit. They should be using US1 instead).
US90 is hopeless. For at least 50% of the distance, it's stoplight-to-stoplight crawling through the Mississippi coast casino country. During Katrina, several of the bridges on 90 were completely wiped out. One of the three bridges in Louisiana, which had recently been reopened, is again closed, so not an option at all. It was I-10 or nothing in this case. All this said, the legal minimum speed out there is 45 mph, which we all know is absurd, but at least I was: 1) legal, and 2) constantly aware of the danger and actively trying to stay out of the way of the slumbering idiots doing 85 while munching burgers and listening to music...
 
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"...Who cares what the socialist whining europeans think about us..They can't even win a war with out the sacrifice and $$$ of the U.S people." The Soviets beat the Japanese so badly in a little known battle in 1939 that the Japanese feared the Soviets for the remainder of the war. The Japanese in part surrendered after the Soviets declared war on Japan, as the Japanese still hadn't surrendered even after both Bombs had been dropped. The military turning point of WWII was the battle of Kursk, as it marked the start of the long retreat back to Berlin. The main benefit of D-Day is that it prevented a complete takeover of Europe by the Soviets, as by the middle of 1944 victory seemed reasonably assured for the Soviets. The Allies were in Italy but didn't get out until about the end of the war. But of course our world view doesn't acknowledge such things.
 
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 Originally Posted By: ekpolk
Steady everyone... Sunday night, I got a vivid reminder that it's not "speed" that kills, but rather, "relative speed". As described in my "venting about being vandalized" thread, I had to drive home from New Orleans (~200 miles to Pensacola), at 50-55 mph because that's as fast as I could go without having the wind blast suck my impromptu patch out of my shattered passenger window. This drive is 97.5% I-10 east, through LA, MS, AL, and then home to FL. I felt like a super-vulnerable target the whole way, with cars blasting past me often doing more than 30 mph faster than I was. On several occasions, I prepared to swerve for the breakdown lane, wondering the fool barreling down on me would figure out that I was traveling slowly. I don't like the driving with flashers thing, but I put them on several times to get attention when needed. High speeds (within some semblance of reason) are perfectly safe, especially if everyone is at about the same speed. Low speeds can be drastically dangerous if the low speed car is an unexpected obstruction to the rest of traffic flow.
ekpolk, you say that high speeds are safe, but you do not mention the context, which makes all other variables free. As a consequence, to show your statement to be false, I can alter all other variables to create a context that is false, assuming that one exists. Theoretically speaking, it is possible to be in bumper to bumper traffic while traveling at 100 mph. Practically speaking, that does not typically happen. We all know that if everyone had their bumpers, for example, a foot apart from one another while driving at 100 mph, there would be collisions galore. Speed has little to do with safety when it is within the design limitations of a given road. What has to do with safety is the vehicle density and whether or not the speeds are within the design limitations of a given road. We do not have roads designed for speeds in excess of 85 mph in my state (and to make a strong statement, states in the union generally do not have roads designed for speeds in excess of 85 mph), which is partially why we do not have vehicles traveling bumper to bumper at 100 mph on our roads. The other part is that collisions only occur when two objects make contact, and as the density of vehicles increases, so does the probability that they will make contact. Admittedly, it would be very difficult for a high traffic density to occur on a road that has a 100 mph speed limit, but my point is that high speeds are not necessarily safe and that their only correlation to increased safety comes when they make it possible for cars to maintain greater distances between one another, as to be quite honest, if you are driving a car and your car is the only car on the road, what can you hit? That is not a realistic scenario (and that is a rhetorical and perhaps philosophical question), but it makes it clear that your car's proximity to other cars is what enables your car to collide with other cars and the more isolated a car is from other cars, the less likely it is that there will be a collision. Raising the speed limits of major highways to their design limitations (preferably only on days when it is not raining) accomplishes that as a consequence of the equation I posted earlier.
 
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No Shine, I did NOT say that high speeds are safe. That was not my point at all. My point is that it is what I'd call "relative speed" that makes a difference. If the majority of traffic is plodding along at 50 mph, and one vehicle trying to blast through the pack at 80 mph, the "fast" car is an extreme hazard to everyone, including himself (assuming the usual way this is done, weaving in and out, and so forth). It is far safer for everyone if all (or a large majority) of the cars on the road are traveling at similar speeds. You also mistakenly assumed that I was implying that speed is somehow a dominant factor in overall safety. Again, I didn't say that either. Speed, or relative speed, is but one of many, many factors that will determine the probability of an unsafe event taking place. Traffic density is another factor, as would be condition of road surface, weather conditions, wind, temperature, and so forth.
 
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"if you are driving a car and your car is the only car on the road, what can you hit?" In one study that I ran across, where inury and death rates were broken down by vehicle type, gender, age, and accident type, as I recall some of the main contributors to pickup truck accidents were younger drivers, accidents by young and middle aged males on weekends in rural areas, which was primarily attributed to alcohol, and women who in general did poorly in pickups (SUVs) too. Don't need other cars around to run into, trees, poles, bridges, and the earth are enough.
 
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 Originally Posted By: 1sttruck
"if you are driving a car and your car is the only car on the road, what can you hit?" In one study that I ran across, where inury and death rates were broken down by vehicle type, gender, age, and accident type, as I recall some of the main contributors to pickup truck accidents were younger drivers, accidents by young and middle aged males on weekends in rural areas, which was primarily attributed to alcohol, and women who in general did poorly in pickups (SUVs) too. Don't need other cars around to run into, trees, poles, bridges, and the earth are enough.
Excellent point. About a year ago, one of my wife's childhood friends lost her 19 year old son. He lost control of his full-size pickup, drove it into a tree, and received a fatal head injury, despite wearing his belts. Plenty can go wrong when you're all alone on the road.
 
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 Originally Posted By: ShiningArcanine
Admittedly, it would be very difficult for a high traffic density to occur on a road that has a 100 mph speed limit
Sure it would. I saw it in Germany(although the road had no speed limit at all). The issue was drivers, mainly from France and the Netherlands, who drove in the left lane and refused to move over to allow others to pass. This did a fine job of screwing up traffic and bringing down the speed on the road to the 65-70MPH that the left lane hogs wanted to drive.
 
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