The Thing With SUV Crash Safety.

Unfortunately, it’s true that a heavier car (like an SUV) is often safer, simply because it’s heavier.

Environmental advocates have been trying to put this advantage into perspective, saying that the safety of small cars has been improving.  While it’s true that, for example in NHTSA frontal crash tests, compact cars have been getting safer, here’s the catch: according to NHTSA, this test “Represents crashes between two similar vehicles with same weight”. This means that, while you can compare crash safety between two cars of the same class, the system is designed to not inform you about the overall, relative crash safety. This could simply be a design flaw or a deliberate deception to prevent people from buying heavy gas-guzzlers.

With the catastrophic global warming outlook, in a few decades it might be more likely to die in a natural disaster than a car accident, we can’t deny the laws of physics and should acknowledge the fact that, when in a frontal crash, the heavier vehicle often wins.

There are other ways to get injured in car crashes, like rolling off the road (where an SUV has a Disadvantage, due to the higher center of gravity) or hitting a tree (that has the “advantage” of being rooted to the ground), but the other traffic participants and their erratic behaviors are often our worst fears.

It seems absurd that car companies are always trying to decrease the weight of their vehicles in an attempt to make them more efficient while, arguably, this exact weight has secretly been a reason for soccer moms to favor big vehicles when car shopping. Do yo really need a Chevy Suburban to haul your kids around, if a Chrysler Pacifica (also available as a hybrid), at half a ton less weight, would do the same job? Arguably, yes, if you have an advantage over the other soccer moms and can mash them to pulps in your speed-bump neighborhoodss because no parent is driving as responsibly as you are, right?

Am I advocating this automotive arms race? Am I urging people to consider the environment when making their car-buying decisions? Should everyone start driving M2 Bradleys to get their kids to school? (the result of which would be the same, in terms of safety, because everyone will have a vehicle of similar wight again).

Let me put it this way: whatever your decision is, I won’t judge it, because, in the end, I can’t deny the laws of physics.


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