Armored Humvees More Crash Prone
The law of unintended consequences has kicked in for the U.S. Army. Having up-armored its Humvees to protect soldiers from improvised explosive devices, leaders have discovered that the heavier vehicles are now much more susceptible to rollovers. Several soldiers have died as a result.
Humvee crashes perplex Army (USA Today)
The Army is baffled by a recent spate of vehicle accidents in Iraq Ã¢€” many of them rollovers involving armored Humvees Ã¢€” that have claimed more than a dozen lives this year. One key concern: Soldiers lack the skills to handle the heavier Humvees and are losing control as they speed through ambush areas before insurgents detonate roadside bombs. “An individual feels that if he goes faster he can avoid that threat,” says Lt. Col. Michael Tarutani, an Army official tracking the accidents. “But now he’s exceeded, first, maybe his capabilities, and then maybe the speed for those conditions.”
In the past four full months, the numbers of serious vehicle accidents and fatalities in Iraq have more than doubled from the previous four months, records provided by the Army show. In the first 10 weeks of this year, 14 soldiers were killed in accidents involving Humvees or trucks. All but one died in rollovers. If that rate continues, the number of soldiers killed in such accidents this year would be almost double the 39 soldiers killed in 2004. Detailed records involving Marines were not available.
The Army is trying to determine whether the dramatic increase in the number of Humvees in use in Iraq Ã¢€” or an increase in the amount of miles they are being driven Ã¢€” might explain the higher number of accidents. It also is questioning whether the handling and center of gravity in Humvees may have been altered by armor plating bolted on in Iraq or shields added around gun turrets. Adding to the mystery is that many of the rollover accidents involve the newest generation of factory-produced armored Humvees, vehicles thoroughly tested by the Army and with an even lower center of gravity than those without armor plating.
Obviously, there are many factors at work here. But people keep forgetting that the HMMWV was a replacement for the jeep designed to provide increased flexibility. It was never designed to be an armored personnel carrier.