The myth that bigger cars are safer

October 1, 2007 at 10:24 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

While we’re at it, we might as well deal with the whole “big = safe” proposition. Proponents of delivering 1.0 people to the office in a vehicle designed to carry 1.8 basketball teams often get in a hurry to present the idea that bigger cars are safer than smaller cars. They point at indicators that show fewer deaths per million miles traveled in large vehicles than in smaller ones. But what those charts don’t show is another important figure: dollars. In America, small cars are almost uniformly cheap small cars. Many of these cars carry over older designs and pack in less safety gear than more expensive larger vehicles. When price is factored into the equation, the supposed advantage of large vehicles more than disappears. For example, a Mini Cooper has a curb weight of about 2,700 pounds. A Ford Excursion has a curb weight above 7,000 pounds. But the rate of deaths per million miles is 68 in the Cooper, 115 in the Excursion. For a more extreme example, you only have to watch a Formula 1 car, weighing less than 1500 pounds, smash into a wall or go flying through the air, only to have the driver climb out of the wreck unharmed. Engineering matters more than weight. So long as small cars are considered “starter cars,” they get poor engineering. When they get good engineering, they’re as safe as larger vehicles.

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/9/30/12159/3704

Of course minis are popular in England where they are much less likely to have encounters with Bubbas in F150s, Dodge Ram Trucks, etc.   The average car size in England is just a bit oversize to fit in the back of an Excursion.

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