Tiny Cars Less Safe!

Reacting to a report buttressing the obvious fact that “very small cars generally can’t protect people in crashes as well as bigger, heavier models,” an angry Michael O’Hare‘s wonders “why is oversizing and up-weighting not the behavior associated with an increase in deaths on the highway? Why is the ‘standard’ car the fat, thirsty, heavy vehicle of the reckless and self-indulgent?”

Proud Cooper Mini owner  Megan McArdle retorts, “As long as Americans insist on having children, and those children are legally required to spend their prepubescent years in some elaborate safety contraption, American cars aren’t going to get much smaller than an Accord.  And those Accords will continue to pose a mortal threat to those of us who drive smaller cars.”

What’s particularly bizarre about this debate, from the perspective of someone older than Megan and younger than O’Hare, is that I recall a time when very small cars were a virtual non-option for American drivers.  The first car my family owned that I can remember was a Rambler station wagon that would be thought of as enormous today but was just a normal car in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  Our next car, a 1973 Plymouth Satellite Sebring Plus, was considered a mid-size car in those days but would be a very large car now.  Finally, in 1979, we bought a Toyota Corolla hatchback.  It was a decidedly small car but I was able to fit with reasonable comfort in the back seat as a taller-than-average 13-year-old; I suspect it was larger than Megan’s Mini.

That’s a longish way of saying that O’Hare’s sense — which seems to be widely shared — that Americans are suddenly driving behemoths rather than sensible cars is flat backwards.   The heyday of the very small car is now.  And even the Hummers and Escalades of today have a footprint smaller than our old Rambler wagon.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. odograph says:

    Two quick points:

    1. Beware averages for vehicle classes (like “very small cars”) because safety for cars within the same class vary widely. A VW Jetta (small, but not very small) is safer than many (perhaps most) large cars.

    2. Why are you going “very small?” If it is for MPG, remember that the current champ (the Prius) is a mid-sized car by EPA designations.

    (Really, my bottom line is don’t buy a car based on averages of other makes and models. Look specifically at the contenders for your dollar.)

  2. Bithead says:

    That’s a longish way of saying that O’Hare’s sense — which seems to be widely shared — that Americans are suddenly driving behemoths rather than sensible cars is flat backwards. The heyday of the very small car is now. And even the Hummers and Escalades of today have a footprint smaller than our old Rambler wagon.

    When I was growing up, my Dad relaced the 62 Chevy Bel-Air he had with a brand new 66. THe 66 had an AM Radio, a heater, a straight 6 (155 hp, in a fairly narrow RPM range) and a three on the tree. 4 doors. RWD, open Diff. It had a frame under it. It got around 21mpg on the open road. Would tow a few thousand lbs at most.

    I currently drive a Buick Rainier, which is essentially a Chevy TRailBlazer/GMC Envoy with a lot of sound deadening and a few nice things added. Am-FM/Phone, Satalite radio, CD changer. Fully automatic Air conditionaling. Has AWD, with an automatic locking rear axle. Cruise control. A straight 6 generating 275hp and 275 ft lbs of torque. IE; About double the power as Dad’s 66. Automatic tranny. Will tow 7100 lbs. Fair ground clearence. Rides about the same as the Chevy. And gets 22 to the gallon on the open road.

    Somehow, I fail to understand how that constitutes the problem cited by O’Hare. Seems if anything, what I’m driving is at the moment by far more efficient than what Dad had.

    Oh… there’s this, also, and I suspect you know this James… your picture demonstates rather clearly that Accords aren’t the only thing out there problematic to the continued existance of ‘smart car’ drivers.

  3. Floyd says:

    Still, a small car today would be engineered to be safer than a large car from the 1960s,in spite of some of the government mandated features and because of others.

  4. Michael says:

    It’s purely a physics equation, if you have significantly less mass than the other vehicle, you will be absorbing proportionately more energy. It’s not the fact that the cars are small that makes them less safe, it’s the fact that they are smaller than the other car. A Mini Cooper will be safer in a 45MPH collision with another Mini Cooper than it will with a Rainier at the same speed.

  5. Bithead says:

    Still, a small car today would be engineered to be safer than a large car from the 1960s,in spite of some of the government mandated features and because of others.

    Safer in what situation? Hitting a test sled? Perhaps. Hitting real world vehicles? Look up.
    I’ll never drive such a vehicle.

  6. Michael says:

    Also, when did an Accord become a big car?

  7. odograph says:

    Safer in what situation? Hitting a test sled? Perhaps. Hitting real world vehicles?

    Deaths per 100 million miles driven have been falling steadily.

    The inflection, around 1992, where they stopped falling so quickly is interesting. What happened then?

  8. Michael says:

    The inflection, around 1992, where they stopped falling so quickly is interesting. What happened then?

    Obviously it’s all Clinton’s fault.

    Apologies to Bithead for stealing his line.

  9. Jay C. says:

    My best guess is that some opinions against mid-sized cars and bigger that seem to be grounded in rational thought are, in fact, irrational. Note that the Prius, as mentioned earlier, is considered a mid-sized car. Also note that, without being reductionist, the environmental impact of battery production is pretty bad.

    THAT SAID, I think that people who crow against “big cars” are merely offended by their seeming testimony to conspicuous consumption and are trying to wrap an aesthetic argument with a rational one in order to give the position more weight.

  10. Phil Smith says:

    The inflection, around 1992, where they stopped falling so quickly is interesting. What happened then?

    The most likely answer is “nothing”. 1.37 motor vehicle crash deaths per 100 million miles driven is astonishingly low. They’ve made the cars so safe that any incremental improvements are at the margins. This is, after all, an asymptotic issue; we’ll never see a negative death toll on the roadways. And no matter how safe you make the car, the driver is still a human.

  11. odograph says:

    Also note that, without being reductionist, the environmental impact of battery production is pretty bad.

    There were dualing lifecycle studies on the Prius and its battery. After a couple fliers the studies rapidly clustered around “good news” for Toyota (and/or Prius drivers).

    Example:

    THE ENVIRONMENTAL AND HUMAN HEALTH IMPACT OF THE HYBRID-ELETRIC VEHICLE LIFECYCLE: EMISSIONS FROM THE TAILPIPE AND THE NICKEL METAL-HYDRIDE BATTERY

  12. Bithead says:

    Deaths per 100 million miles driven have been falling steadily.

    And yet we’re being told that the cars (And trucks) we’re driving are ‘too big’. Connection, maybe?

    It’s purely a physics equation, if you have significantly less mass than the other vehicle, you will be absorbing proportionately more energy. It’s not the fact that the cars are small that makes them less safe, it’s the fact that they are smaller than the other car. A Mini Cooper will be safer in a 45MPH collision with another Mini Cooper than it will with a Rainier at the same speed.

    Correct, and by the same token, the Rainier will also be at least somewhat safer in an accident with the size differential shown above.

    Obviously it’s all Clinton’s fault.

    Actually, that’s not far wrong, but in a weird sort of way.

    The Deflection in 1992, was caused by the Clinton administration era regulations which attempted to get us all driving thimbles. It only resulted in somewhat less than half of us driving them, whereas the rest of us went to light trucks, vans and SUV’s. The lower overall death rate was caused in no small part by those trucks and SUV’s being safer overall, not just in a crash situation. The law of unintended consequences rides again.

  13. Jeffrey W. Baker says:

    I think your memory is misleading you. A Rambler wagon was narrow and weighed a mere 2700 pounds. An SUV today, like the Lexus RX350, weighs 4500 pounds. Just look at your example picture of the Rambler, and how much spare room it leaves in a parking space. Now drive down to your nearest grocery store and note how most of the cars barely fit between the lines any more.

  14. Triumph says:

    That’s a longish way of saying that O’Hare’s sense — which seems to be widely shared — that Americans are suddenly driving behemoths rather than sensible cars is flat backwards.

    This guy is a typical liberal know-nothing. The fact that he is named after B. Hussein Obama’s home state airport is enough to utterly discount his rant.

  15. Roberta says:

    Might it be that the Rambler seemed huge because you were, at the time, somewhat less so?

  16. James Joyner says:

    A Rambler wagon was narrow and weighed a mere 2700 pounds. An SUV today, like the Lexus RX350, weighs 4500 pounds. Just look at your example picture of the Rambler, and how much spare room it leaves in a parking space. Now drive down to your nearest grocery store and note how most of the cars barely fit between the lines any more.

    and

    Might it be that the Rambler seemed huge because you were, at the time, somewhat less so?

    It may be that modern SUVs are heavier than those old cars but cars used to be longer and with a bigger footprint. Compare a Cadillac or a Town Car from 1972 to one from 2008. The days of the land yacht ended twenty years or more ago.

  17. markm says:

    When I was growing up, my Dad relaced the 62 Chevy Bel-Air he had with a brand new 66. THe 66 had an AM Radio, a heater, a straight 6 (155 hp, in a fairly narrow RPM range) and a three on the tree. 4 doors. RWD, open Diff. It had a frame under it. It got around 21mpg on the open road. Would tow a few thousand lbs at most.

    Heh, my dad had a white 65′ with the same options as your dad’s 66′ except the 65′ had a powerglide…slower than a Pinto but an ok ride for the time (mom picked up a 67′ Camaro in late 66′. THAT was a fun car as I remember)

    A straight 6 generating 275hp and 275 ft lbs of torque. IE; About double the power as Dad’s 66. Automatic tranny. Will tow 7100 lbs. Fair ground clearence. Rides about the same as the Chevy. And gets 22 to the gallon on the open road.

    Seems if anything, what I’m driving is at the moment by far more efficient than what Dad had.

    There is no comparing between the two…the efficiency of vehicles today (even pickup trucks, gas and diesel) is so much higher than anything from back in the day.

  18. markm says:

    Might it be that the Rambler seemed huge because you were, at the time, somewhat less so?

    It may be that modern SUVs are heavier than those old cars but cars used to be longer and with a bigger footprint. Compare a Cadillac or a Town Car from 1972 to one from 2008. The days of the land yacht ended twenty years or more ago.

    James, that land yacht Nash wagon had a 112″ wheelbase….the 2010 Cheby Camero land yacht has a 112.3″ wheel base. $5 says the new Camero does litterally everything better and more efficiently than that old Nash. Oh, and it weighs up to 3,900lbs and with the 426hp v-8 option, it still gets 16/24 MPG. Odd.

  19. odograph says:

    Physics as the only thing, or even the main thing, is easy to disprove. Look at the distribution of similar cars in my old favorite document, page 4, posted here last year:

    AN ANALYSIS OF TRAFFIC DEATHS
    BY VEHICLE TYPE AND MODEL

    Small cars would not be so spread out, from the safe to the unsafe, if it was only poundage.

  20. Eric says:

    The Deflection in 1992, was caused by the Clinton administration era regulations […]

    I’m sorry, but wasn’t Clinton elected in Nov 92, only taking office on Jan 20, 1993? How can “Clinton-era regulations” be responsible for the “Deflection of 92?”

    Bitsy, why don’t you just admit that Clinton is responsible for everything from the collapse of Bronze Age culture to the destruction of Earth 4 billion years from now.

    LOL.

  21. PD Shaw says:

    odograph, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be looking at on your recent link.

    Page 4 would appear to be a chart suggesting that pick-up trucks are the most dangerous to the driver and to the other vehicle. It’s followed by a statement that it’s hard to differentiate between the safety aspects of a vehicle and the behavioral characteristics of the drivers attracted to them.

    Kind of (morbidly) funny, but I wonder if I’m looking at the right place.

  22. Michael says:

    Physics as the only thing, or even the main thing, is easy to disprove.

    As the only thing, absolutely. But the lighter weight car will always have to absorb more energy than the heavier car in a collision, thus it’s occupants will always be at a disadvantage.

    Consider a head-on collision, the two masses being unequal, the lighter car will have all of it’s velocity reversed and then some, while the heavier car will have only a portion of it’s velocity reversed.

    Thus, the occupants of the lighter car will experience a greater force than the occupants of the heavier car. Design and safety features being equal, the lighter car is less safe.

  23. Michael says:

    I’m sorry, but wasn’t Clinton elected in Nov 92, only taking office on Jan 20, 1993? How can “Clinton-era regulations” be responsible for the “Deflection of 92?”

    Stop confusing the issue with Facts!

  24. Bithead says:

    I think your memory is misleading you. A Rambler wagon was narrow and weighed a mere 2700 pounds

    Not the ’72 Matador wagon. Assuming the 304v8/auto combo, which around half of them had, the thing weighed around 3800. Girlfriend’s old man had one. The wagon proved useful, one night.(Wink) Actually, not a bad car for the time.

    I’m sorry, but wasn’t Clinton elected in Nov 92, only taking office on Jan 20, 1993? How can “Clinton-era regulations” be responsible for the “Deflection of 92?”

    Rather simple, really. Remember, Bush was dealing with a Democat Congress. Also, does the line continue through the following eight years? I think you’ll find it does.

    Heh, my dad had a white 65′ with the same options as your dad’s 66′ except the 65′ had a powerglide…slower than a Pinto but an ok ride for the time (mom picked up a 67′ Camaro in late 66′. THAT was a fun car as I remember)

    Yeah, even with the I6… which, interestingly was the same as the 155hp base engine in the BelAir. 66 … or maybe 65, I forget… was the first year they went short stroke. Dad used to bitch a blue streak because he couldn’t get the thing to lug down low like the 62 did.

    The Powerglide was a rock solid beast but had a parasitic drain of around 40 horses. Couple that with the idea that the powerglide was only a two speed, and thereby had to have a lower tail gear, the thing had no legs at all. (3.73 vs 3.42, as I recall, though I’m unsure on that)

    Buddy’s father down the street had a 65 a Biscayne.. the VERY stripped down model, (The pecking order from Lordstown at the time was Biscayne, BelAir, Impala, Impala SS, Caprice. The Caprice was a near -Caddy.) The guy then proceeded to build that Biscayne up, mostly with off the shelf parts. It was a unique car time het got done with it. It was that powder blue they came out with that year, but had the 283 with the power glide. A few years later, my brother picked up a blue-grey Impala SS convertible with the 327. It was weird to see them sitting side by side. That 327 was a bit of a stormer, being their second largest engine Chevy that year, but still didn’t develop the HP my Rainier I6 does now. Ponder that for a moment.

  25. Floyd says:

    “”Safer in what situation?””

    With the advent of seat belts 1964, dual master cylinder 1967, collapsible steering column,disc brakes, improved tire technology, halogen headlights,pressurized shocks,etc,…
    actually safer in nearly all situations.

    I predict, however that with the recent switch from good mechanical engineering to dependence on electronic substitutes, we will start to see the curve move back downward even in the face of defensive statistics by the proponents.
    It has been many years since the average car has seen any significant mechanical engineering improvement.

  26. Eric says:

    Rather simple, really. Remember, Bush was dealing with a Democat Congress. Also, does the line continue through the following eight years? I think you’ll find it does.

    So, technically and more correctly, those would be “Bush 41-era regulations,” then, wouldn’t they?

    Funny how it always comes back to the Democrats and Clinton with you, Bitsy. Why, it’s almost as if the last eight years never existed…

  27. CGHill says:

    @Michael: The current Accord sedan, according to the EPA, is a “large” car, but just barely: 120 cubic feet of passenger + cargo space.

  28. anjin-san says:

    I currently drive a Buick Rainier, which is essentially a Chevy TRailBlazer/GMC Envoy with a lot of sound deadening and a few nice things added. Am-FM/Phone, Satalite radio, CD changer. Fully automatic Air conditionaling. Has AWD, with an automatic locking rear axle. Cruise control. A straight 6 generating 275hp and 275 ft lbs of torque. IE; About double the power as Dad’s 66. Automatic tranny. Will tow 7100 lbs. Fair ground clearence. Rides about the same as the Chevy. And gets 22 to the gallon on the open road.

    Bit, a word of advice. If you are going to carry on about your ride, get a cool one 🙂

    Hell my boss bought an amazing car a few months ago, limited edition, only 5000 made. And in the subsequent months he has not talked about it as much as we have been treated here to bit talking about “his rig”. But then my boss does not have a lot to prove…

  29. odograph says:

    PD & Michael, yes physics is part of it, and cars can attract a demographic. What I was really looking at though was the distribution of diamonds (for “sub-compact cars”) across the page, in Figure 3, Page 4.

    From the Jetta to the Neon we’ve got a huge swath covered. Quoting the average for a sub-compact is less useful than directing safety conscious drivers to the better examples.

    The headline, that tiny cars are unsafe, can mislead, especially if the audience is fuzzy on which are the tiny ones (Jettas?)

  30. anjin-san says:

    Rather simple, really. Remember, Bush was dealing with a Democat Congress.

    See Eric you have not thought this through. The victory over Saddam in gulf 1? All the work of the Democratic Congress, baby.

  31. markm says:

    PD & Michael, yes physics is part of it

    It’s a very very big part of it in real world crashes. mV = mV is a brutal equation no matter how you slice it. If everybody has the same relative V, m is the key variable. In the real world you don’t see many heads up crashes between two Corollas. I’d rather be the hammer than the nail.

  32. markm says:

    The Powerglide was a rock solid beast but had a parasitic drain of around 40 horses. Couple that with the idea that the powerglide was only a two speed

    You couldn’t break that transmission. It was just about bulletproof…but that shift from 1 to 2…it was the only vehicle i’ve ever been in that felt like it slowed down after it shifted (i’m sure it had better shift characteristics behind a V-8 of any size).

  33. gawaine says:

    I could be wrong, but it looks to me like the effect of SUVs on the road, in causing lots of fatalities to people driving matchbox cars, is overstated. I say this because it looks like a large number of fatalities aren’t in multicar accidents with an SUV vs. compact, and in those large number of cases, you’re better off in a larger car.

    According to NHTSA’s 2007 statistics, about 44% of fatalities are single-car accidents. (18402 out of 41059 fatalities overall, 28933 passenger vehicle fatalities). If I drive a Honda Civic into the tree, and there’s no Ford Expedition anywhere near it, is it still Bush’s fault?

    13% of fatalities are pedestrians or cyclists, who probably don’t care what car hit them (unless it’s a Smart Car or a PUMA, in which case the car is totaled and the pedestrian’s insurance will be paying out). Forcing people to get rid of their SUVs won’t help.

    That adds up to about 61% of cases where I don’t think it matters to the person who died whether or not there are more SUVs on the road, absent explanations for the accident (e.g., it took three miles for the Expedition to stop from the time the engineer stepped on the brakes before it hit the pedestrian, or the Suburban blocked out the sun).

    Large trucks are disproportionally involved in fatal crashes (8% of fatalities involve large trucks, 2007 numbers). Again, forcing people to get rid of SUVs won’t help this statistic, unless we take trucks off the road and start transporting via unicorn. This is not directly additive with the above numbers, since the 405 nonoccupant deaths caused by a large truck would be in both buckets, but it’s roughly additive, bringing the total to just shy of 69% of deaths being totally unrelated to whether or not there was an SUV on the road.

  34. Bithead says:

    Bit, a word of advice. If you are going to carry on about your ride, get a cool one 🙂

    You’ve missed, I think, that’s exactly the point! By today’s standards, the thing isn’t outstanding by most measures. Just a nice balance of capability, really, that fits all the needs with a little class thrown in. Yet as compared to what I grew up with… this thing blows all that away. And that’s what the folks complaining about ‘efficiency’ don’t seem to grasp… the leaps in efficiency we’ve made.

    So, technically and more correctly, those would be “Bush 41-era regulations,” then, wouldn’t they?

    No. Again, look at the lines in question, and play that against the EPA regs imposed by Clinton. The shift may have haD A SLIGHT START in 92 (Again, imposed by a Democrat Congress) but was reinforced by EPA regs under Clinton.

    Funny how it always comes back to the Democrats and Clinton with you, Bitsy

    heh. And, of course you can always be depended upon to defend Clinton.

    i’m sure it had better shift characteristics behind a V-8 of any size

    Well, that was the torque fall off because of the short stroke design. The band of the 155 was pretty narrow, and two gears just didn’t cut it, didn’t keep it in the range.

  35. physics geek says:

    And those Accords will continue to pose a mortal threat to those of us who drive smaller cars.

    I find that statement to be so odd that I have trouble grasping the idea that Megan is pushing. Is she somehow claiming that an Accord is an urban behemoth, capable of inflicting damage a la a Sherman tank on the freeways? If so, I’d like to suggest that she get the emissions checked on her toy car as the fumes are obviously getting to her.

    Really, if you somehow believe that an Accord is just too damned big, your perspective is more than a little skewed.

  36. Bithead says:

    Really, if you somehow believe that an Accord is just too damned big, your perspective is more than a little skewed

    You’ve discovered a great truth of the left; their ability to move the goalposts.

  37. Floyd says:

    “”And those Accords will continue to pose a mortal threat to those of us who drive smaller cars.””
    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

    Like these?…

    http://www.microcarmuseum.com/virtualtour.html

  38. anjin-san says:

    Yet as compared to what I grew up with… this thing blows all that away.

    Well, be sure to thank the UAW members who made it. Funny, I did not think such a thing would be possible with all those government regulations that liberals have imposed…

  39. odograph says:

    PD & Michael, yes physics is part of it

    It’s a very very big part of it in real world crashes. mV = mV is a brutal equation no matter how you slice it. If everybody has the same relative V, m is the key variable. In the real world you don’t see many heads up crashes between two Corollas. I’d rather be the hammer than the nail.

    Why do you ignore the data?

  40. Bithead says:

    Well, be sure to thank the UAW members who made it. Funny, I did not think such a thing would be possible with all those government regulations that liberals have imposed…

    The accomplishments were made in spite of, not because of Unions and governmental over-reach. It’s sad to think what we could ahve accomplihsed absent those impediments.

  41. Bithead says:

    Why do you ignore the data?

    Looks from here like he’s not the one ignoring the data, Odo.

  42. anjin-san says:

    The accomplishments were made in spite of, not because of Unions

    Well, you are nothing if not consistent. You never go a single thought beyond what you are ideologically allowed. Sort of a right wing Andre Gromyko…

  43. Michael says:

    The accomplishments were made in spite of, not because of Unions and governmental over-reach.

    So, if an American car company makes something bad, it’s because of the Unions and Government, but if they make something good it’s in spite of them, and you use both example as proof of the Unions and Government being bad.

    How you can do that, without your brain segfaulting from the infinite recursion, is beyond me. Maybe you just don’t follow your own logic through enough iterations to see the error.

  44. Bithead says:

    Well, you are nothing if not consistent

    The truth very seldom changes.

    So, if an American car company makes something bad, it’s because of the Unions and Government, but if they make something good it’s in spite of them, and you use both example as proof of the Unions and Government being bad.

    As has been so popularly noted by the left, I’ll suggest to you that Detroit coming up with a good vehicle is about the same as a blind pig finding an acorn. The GMT360 was one such. Are you really going to argue that statement now? How is it that the left has never been able to bring themselves to admit Unions and government over-reach are the cause of what Detroit puts out?

  45. Michael says:

    How is it that the left has never been able to bring themselves to admit Unions and government over-reach are the cause of what Detroit puts out?

    Because while Unions and government over-reach will cause an increase in price, it wouldn’t cause the over-all poor quality of the design going into their vehicles.

  46. Michael says:

    Also, pigs forage mostly by smell, not sight. A blind pig wouldn’t be at much of a disadvantage when it comes to finding food.

  47. Bithead says:

    Because while Unions and government over-reach will cause an increase in price, it wouldn’t cause the over-all poor quality of the design going into their vehicles.

    Absent competition on the world market, that may be true. But that’s not the case, now, is it? (Which is why the unions wanted government to prevent imports from coming in in the numbers they have. )

    When automakers have to cost down their product so as to accomidate the nutty costs imposed by the unions and the government, while still getting their showroom costs to target to remmain competitive, something’s gotta give. Guess what gives, then?

  48. Eric says:

    So, just out of curiosity, Bitsy, do you have any actual facts or data you can point to to support your assertions regarding unions (because, really, that’s all they are at this point)? Or is this just your gut feeling, where the mere projection of confidence (perhaps “overconfidence” in your case) is more important than actual facts?

    Hey, just askin’!

  49. markm says:

    PD & Michael, yes physics is part of it

    It’s a very very big part of it in real world crashes. mV = mV is a brutal equation no matter how you slice it. If everybody has the same relative V, m is the key variable. In the real world you don’t see many heads up crashes between two Corollas. I’d rather be the hammer than the nail.

    Why do you ignore the data?

    From your linky above: “In fatal two-vehicle crashes involving a passenger vehicle and a large truck, 98 percent of the deaths occur to the occupants in the passenger vehicles.”

    Hammer/nail.

  50. Bithead says:

    So, just out of curiosity, Bitsy, do you have any actual facts or data you can point to to support your assertions

    You’re straw grabbing now, if that point didn’t leap to mind before you even asked the question. Right off the end of your nose:

    The rise of Japan and Korea, respectively, as automakers.

    As a Bonus, seems to me what happened to Saturn over the years, is indictive, too.

  51. Eric says:

    The rise of Japan and Korea, respectively, as automakers.

    As a Bonus, seems to me what happened to Saturn over the years, is indictive, too.

    Umm, that’s kind of a cop out, Bitsy. Simply pointing to Japan and Korea and saying, “See,” does not answer the specific question of how unions are responsible for all the bad.

  52. odograph says:

    markm, now you are just changing the argument.

    The question was whether physics trumps design.

    I gave you a chart with real world results, vehicles driven for millions of real miles. You say “but in the real world.”

    If design didn’t matter those sub-compacts would be clustered in one place. There would be one answer for fatalities in a “sub compact car” but in the real world that isn’t true at all. The data shows otherwise.

    As an example, I knew a guy who fell asleep, spun out in his Saab 99 (not huge) and looked up to see a semi coming at him at 55. He was standing still. Head-on.

    He walked away, without injury.

  53. Rick Almeida says:
  54. Michael says:

    The question was whether physics trumps design

    That was never the argument. The argument is that designs for smaller cars have to do more to trump physics than the designs for larger cars.

    As an example, I knew a guy who fell asleep, spun out in his Saab 99 (not huge) and looked up to see a semi coming at him at 55. He was standing still. Head-on.

    He was lucky he was standing still. If he had been traveling in the direction of the semi, things would have been much worse for him.

  55. Michael says:

    Just for fun:

    Japan has auto worker unions.

    So does South Korea.

    Stop confusing the issue with Facts!

  56. Bithead says:

    Just for fun:

    Japan has auto worker unions.

    So does South Korea.

    Stop confusing the issue with Facts!

    Facts like they don’t impose nearly the costs on Japan’s automakers as American unions do… yet.

  57. odograph says:

    This was my statement:

    PD & Michael, yes physics is part of it, and cars can attract a demographic. What I was really looking at though was the distribution of diamonds (for “sub-compact cars”) across the page, in Figure 3, Page 4.

    From the Jetta to the Neon we’ve got a huge swath covered. Quoting the average for a sub-compact is less useful than directing safety conscious drivers to the better examples.

    That is the argument I’m still making.

    What’s your argument exactly? That mass matters more?

    How do you prove that? Or are you making the classic appeal to “missing data”?

    That is, the missing data, which you did not provide, proved all large cars to be equally safe?

  58. odograph says:

    BTW, Large cars with young male drivers, 5%

  59. Michael says:

    What’s your argument exactly? That mass matters more?

    My argument is that physics matters. The force the occupants feel is going to be dependent on the mass of their vehicle, with occupants of the lighter car feeling a greater force. There isn’t anything you can do in the design or construction of a car to change that equation.

  60. anjin-san says:

    I’ll suggest to you that Detroit coming up with a good vehicle is about the same as a blind pig finding an acorn.

    Cadillac makes a number of pretty good vehicles. I know quite a few people who drive American trucks and think they are great.

  61. odograph says:

    What’s your argument exactly? That mass matters more?

    My argument is that physics matters. The force the occupants feel is going to be dependent on the mass of their vehicle, with occupants of the lighter car feeling a greater force. There isn’t anything you can do in the design or construction of a car to change that equation.

    Right, you are saying to the consumer, go buy your vehicle by the pound.

    I am saying look at data like those from the National Highway Safety Administration, data showing the real safety for real cars, and choose a safe car for yourself.

    I say Saabs are safe, in part because they visited every single wreck in Sweden for a decade(!) and redesigned continually for safety.

    You say, doesn’t matter, weigh it.

    Idiot.

  62. Michael says:

    Right, you are saying to the consumer, go buy your vehicle by the pound.

    I’m not saying anything to consumers. Nothing I’ve posted should be construed as purchasing advise.

    You say, doesn’t matter, weigh it.

    I’m saying that the Saab will be safer in a collision with a Mini Cooper, than it will in a collision with a Ford F350 at the same speed.

    Idiot.

    Oh? Where is my understanding of physics wrong?

  63. Floyd says:

    “”Facts like they don’t impose nearly the costs on Japan’s automakers as American unions do… yet.””

    All that,and IMPO, American cars are still a better value,in initial cost, quality, and miles per dollar invested?

  64. Rick Almeida says:

    Facts like they don’t impose nearly the costs on Japan’s automakers as American unions do… yet.

    Evidence?

  65. Matt says:

    The accomplishments were made in spite of, not because of Unions and governmental over-reach. It’s sad to think what we could ahve accomplihsed absent those impediments.

    Seriously you’re quite a piece of work. One moment you can be completely intelligent with your discourse and the next you’re reduced to a frothing partisan moron. There is utterly NO way we’d have better cars today if the gov’t hadn’t mandated better safety/mileage/etc from the manufacturers. For example look at GM and their obsession with the high profit SUVs. GM cut several of their fairly popular car models (including the f-body) because the profits of cars were minuscule compared to what they were getting from SUVs (which use primitive suspension designs etc). The only reason they didn’t cut more is due to CAFE standards requiring fleet MPGs.The fact is car makers are motivated by the bottom dollar and safety tends to cost more…

    BIT I’d also like to point out that Toyota and such don’t have unions in some places because they take very good care of their employees. I have several friends who are anything from engineers to regular workers and their compensation is already on par with the UAW if not better in some aspects.

    When automakers have to cost down their product so as to accomidate the nutty costs imposed by the unions and the government,

    Yeah nutty costs such as getting over 10mpg or not completely crippling the occupants in a crash…

  66. Matt says:

    BTW I’d like to point out that pretty much every car maker was going gaga for SUVs due to their incredible profit margin. I just chose GM since it’s easier..

  67. odograph says:

    I’m saying that the Saab will be safer in a collision with a Mini Cooper, than it will in a collision with a Ford F350 at the same speed.

    Thus avoiding any discussion of safety engineering.

    Idiot.

    Oh? Where is my understanding of physics wrong?

    No, but your monomaniacal focus on physics (reduced to mass) as the only thing is a bit wigged out.

    Do you need seats which stay attached to the car body in an impact? No! That isn’t in your physics equation at all, never mind that it was a big discovery that seatbelts could hold even as the seats themselves detached (not a nice combination).

    How about a roof that keeps integrity in a roll-over? Must just be mass, right? Don’t look at the roof pillars.

  68. anjin-san says:

    Let us open a window into the mind of Bithead:

    I’ll suggest to you that Detroit coming up with a good vehicle is about the same as a blind pig finding an acorn.

    Yet in the very same thread:

    I currently drive a Buick Rainier

    So, Bit, what’s the story? Everything out of Detroit is junk and you just drive a piece of crap because you are stupid?

    and

    Yet as compared to what I grew up with… this thing blows all that away.

    Well, Detroit made fantastic products in the 50s & 60s. And you say a decent, not great Buick blows them away. Yet, according to you, today’s Detroit is utterly incapable of making a decent vehicle.

    This is a pretty good example of what happens when you make it up as you go along…

  69. markm says:

    markm, now you are just changing the argument.

    The question was whether physics trumps design.

    I’m not changing the argument. I said above that
    mV = mV and that for a given similar V, the bigger m will fair better. The information in the link you posted says the same (one example I posted and another example I found earlier at work but can’t find now saying the same thing….in two vehicle crashes, the heavier vehicle by a large percentage has less deaths).

    That aside, i’ll give you this and only this…engineering can trump physics at low speeds. At higher speeds though, on small cars, you don’t have enough crush zone in front or back to absorb a direct shot from a heavier vehicle. Can’t happen. Either the car gives (again, there is no room for adequate crush zones) or the passenger(s) absorb the energy…which doesn’t work out well. It all comes back to the same equation. mV = mV and you can’t get around it with high speeds and one heavy vehicle. Airbags/seatbelts do indeed help greatly but only to a point.

    I gave you a chart with real world results, vehicles driven for millions of real miles. You say “but in the real world.”

    Like I said above, if you keep poking around in there, there is plenty of contradictory wording. One example of which I posted (there is more and will post when I find it again).

    As an example, I knew a guy who fell asleep, spun out in his Saab 99 (not huge) and looked up to see a semi coming at him at 55. He was standing still. Head-on.

    He walked away, without injury.

    People get lucky all the time but in that example, he was involved in a 55mph crash. Were he going 55mph as well that’s almost 125mph into a brick wall (almost because the truck would crush some bleeding off some of the energy). Saab, Pinto or a Malibu…that probably would not have mattered.

  70. markm says:

    http://www.iihs.org/news/2005/iihs_sr_031505.pdf

    “Vehicle weight and the risk of death: Because
    vehicle size and weight are so closely
    related, it shouldn’t be surprising that their
    effects on driver death rates are similar. In
    each group (cars, SUVs, pickups) the heavier vehicles, like bigger ones, generally had
    lower death rates (see tables).
    The rate in
    the lightest SUVs, for example, was more than
    twice as high as in the heaviest SUVs.”

    Obviously this doesn’t tell the whole story but on average, the mass will win.

  71. Bithead says:

    I’ll suggest to you that Detroit coming up with a good vehicle is about the same as a blind pig finding an acorn.

    Yet in the very same thread:

    I currently drive a Buick Rainier

    So, Bit, what’s the story? Everything out of Detroit is junk and you just drive a piece of crap because you are stupid?

    Anjin, For reasons which I don’t even understand, I am going to be exceedingly patient and kind, and make the perhaps unwanted assumption that you have not seen where I have discussed both in this website and on my own the fact that I tow 6000 pounds worth of camper on a regular basis.

    I know of very few Japanese or Korean imports that will serve in that role. The heaviest vehicle that Honda makes, for example, falls about a thousand pound short in the towing capacity department.

    I will also (Rather generously) assume that you haven’t noticed where I have said, again repeatedly, where I will not buy an import vehicle, on matters of principle. Those matters and a fall outside the current realm of discussion.

    That said, and based on those two points alone, I am relegated to finding the best vehicle I can within those parameters, and also within certain price parameters.

    iF you were to spend nearly as much time actually reading what it is that I write around here as you do trying to come up with ways to stick it to me upon one point of minutia or another, you might actually learn something. Again, I’m being generous, because in reality I doubt you have the ability to learn, anymore. You’ve certainly never demonstrated it with me .

    Evidence?

    Please observe closely , Rick, the above conversation with Anjin.

    But, it in direct answer to your question, there wouldn’t be nearly the price differential, to the advantage of the Japanese, if their labor costs were as high as they are here in the states. Study after study for the last couple of decades has proven that point. In your attempts to wiggle out from underneath the weight of the facts, in your RE arguing a point that’s already been argued out twenty years ago.

    Seriously you’re quite a piece of work. One moment you can be completely intelligent with your discourse and the next you’re reduced to a frothing partisan moron. There is utterly NO way we’d have better cars today if the gov’t hadn’t mandated better safety/mileage/etc from the manufacturers.

    OK, let’s see how you do, here. I’m going to pull a Rick and ask for evidence to back this. Not that I’m going to hold my breath waiting for a substantial response, mind.

  72. Eric says:

    OK, let’s see how you do, here. I’m going to pull a Rick and ask for evidence to back this. Not that I’m going to hold my breath waiting for a substantial response, mind.

    Well, why should Matt provide any evidence? You haven’t. All you’ve provided is more assertions based on your own confidence that you are right and we are idiots for not seeing what is so plainly obvious to you. You seem almost contemptuous that we even ask.

    To be clear, then, when we ask for “evidence” or “data,” Bit, we mean some link to an authoritative text or story by an authority on the topic at hand. Not more bluff and bluster.

  73. Michael says:

    Thus avoiding any discussion of safety engineering.

    Not at all, I’m just assuming that safety engineering will be equal on both small and large vehicles. Unless you have evidence that small vehicles have more safety engineering that large vehicles, then I don’t see how this plays a role.

    No, but your monomaniacal focus on physics (reduced to mass) as the only thing is a bit wigged out.

    The reason I focus on mass is because it’s the only part of the equation that is constant for a given vehicle. Speed plays a much larger role, but that is driver dependent, not vehicle dependent.

    Do you need seats which stay attached to the car body in an impact? No! That isn’t in your physics equation at all

    Sure it is, you’re just replacing the mass and velocity of the two cars with the mass and velocity of the occupant+seat and the dashboard. It’s still the same physics in play.

    Seriously odograph, I don’t know why you’re so upset with me about this. I never said that mass was the only thing that was important, just that it was important, and no amount of safety design and engineering was going to make it unimportant.

  74. Bithead says:

    To be clear, then, when we ask for “evidence” or “data,” Bit, we mean some link to an authoritative text or story by an authority on the topic at hand. Not more bluff and bluster

    Ah, yes .
    AN appeal to an authority, wich if it disagrees with your POV, you’ll promptly reject out of hand. You see, I’ve seen it too often before.

    No sale.

  75. anjin-san says:

    Thats nice bit. You have wiggled, you have squirmed, but you comments in this thread still do not reconcile with each other.

    Yet as compared to what I grew up with… this thing blows all that away.

    Just a nice balance of capability, really, that fits all the needs with a little class thrown in.

    I tow 6000 pounds worth of camper on a regular basis

    .

    What you are describing is a good vehicle.

    I’ll suggest to you that Detroit coming up with a good vehicle is about the same as a blind pig finding an acorn.

    You slam Detroit, because your political ideology says you must. Not giving credit where credit is due is the mark of a small man. By your own admission, you own a pretty good vehicle.

    This is something you should look at:

    J.D. Power & Associates has again released its annual Vehicle Dependability Study, measuring problems experienced by original owners of 3-year-old vehicles; in this case, 2005 model year vehicles. No surprises at the very top, as Lexus leads the pack for a 14th straight year, but two domestic brands — Mercury and Cadillac — again made the top five.

    http://jalopnik.com/399997/lexus-mercury-and-cadillac-top-new-jd-power-vehicle-dependability-study

    Skip the kindness, just get better informed and be in less of a hurry to slam the hard-working the Americans that build the car you drive.

  76. Eric says:

    Ah, yes .
    AN appeal to an authority, wich if it disagrees with your POV, you’ll promptly reject out of hand. You see, I’ve seen it too often before.

    No sale.

    So, if you aren’t even interested in backing up your assertions with data or reasonable proof of some kind, why are you bothering to open your pie hole? Do you simply like rehearsing your biases?

    And by the way, an “appeal to authority” is kind of what your supposed to do when you argue viewpoints and dispute facts with other people? If I said the earth was flat, and you said it was round, and you provided proof that, well, 9 out of 10 geographers say it’s round, I would be forced to at least concede I’m in the minority opinion, if not wrong altogether. That’s how it’s supposed to work. (Yes, I know, it’s very hard to do that; but that’s how we make–get this!–progress.)

    Or maybe I’m just too naive and you refuse because you simply don’t have the facts on your side, so it’s easier for you to bluff and look like you know what you’re talking about than attempt to back up your assertions and look like… an adult.

  77. anjin-san says:

    Eric you fool! Everything Michelle Malkin says is a fact.

  78. anjin-san says:

    Oh bit, a ways back you said that I did not understand
    “Atlas Shrugged”. Share your deep insight and tell me who the hero of the story is… (this is a test)

  79. Matt says:

    I will also (Rather generously) assume that you haven’t noticed where I have said, again repeatedly, where I will not buy an import vehicle, on matters of principle. Those matters and a fall outside the current realm of discussion.

    What I find funny is that a lot of “imports” are actually made in American but whatever makes your principle feel better 😛

    But, it in direct answer to your question, there wouldn’t be nearly the price differential, to the advantage of the Japanese, if their labor costs were as high as they are here in the states. Study after study for the last couple of decades has proven that point. In your attempts to wiggle out from underneath the weight of the facts, in your RE arguing a point that’s already been argued out twenty years ago.

    Did you ever notice the difference in pay between the assembly line worker and a typical Japanese exec is nowhere as huge as it is in American companies? Ever think that might have something to do with labor costs too?

    OK, let’s see how you do, here. I’m going to pull a Rick and ask for evidence to back this. Not that I’m going to hold my breath waiting for a substantial response, mind.

    I’ve already provided you with a specific example of how an American company bah nvm you’re in idiot mode…

  80. anjin-san says:

    I will not buy an import vehicle, on matters of principle.

    It would be interesting to see how many items Bit owns that are made in China, a brutal communist dictatorship…

  81. Bithead says:

    What you are describing is a good vehicle.

    As I say, they do occasionally show up.

    You slam Detroit, because your political ideology says you must.

    No, actually, I would prefer not to. But, truth being what it is…

    So, if you aren’t even interested in backing up your assertions with data or reasonable proof of some kind, why are you bothering to open your pie hole? Do you simply like rehearsing your biases?

    Since the beginning you’ve shown every indication of dismissing anything that didn’t agree with your mantra. So far, you’ve shown me absolutely nothing to change that perception. Care to try?

    Did you ever notice the difference in pay between the assembly line worker and a typical Japanese exec is nowhere as huge as it is in American companies? Ever think that might have something to do with labor costs too?

    I might, if there were one supervisor for every two workers. Fact is, the ratio is nowhere near that.

    (this is a test)

    Well, if here’s a test of your memory skills; remember when I recently said I’m not playing your game?

    If I said the earth was flat,

    I would simply regard you as an idiot and move on from there. Come to think about it, that’s not unlike what I’m doing now.

  82. anjin-san says:

    As I say, they do occasionally show up

    Ummm No. 10 yards for BS walkback… You said:

    I’ll suggest to you that Detroit coming up with a good vehicle is about the same as a blind pig finding an acorn.

  83. anjin-san says:

    Well, if here’s a test of your memory skills; remember when I recently said I’m not playing your game?

    Its not a game, I just want to see if you have a clue about what Atlas Shrugged is about. You claimed I did not understand it, that was you popping off. That you can’t back up your BS is hardly a surprise.

    I can appreciated that you don’t want to risk being embarrassed if we were to really see who knows that particular book 🙂 But hey, give yourself some to to go do some online research and you might just come back sounding informed on the subject.

  84. anjin-san says:

    > Bravely ran away, he bravely ran away.

  85. anjin-san says:

    when danger reared
    it’s ugly head
    he bravely turned
    his tail and fled

  86. anjin-san says:

    Brought forth from Rantalot.
    He was not afraid to rave…

  87. anjin-san says:

    Yes brave Sir Bithead turned about
    And gallantly chickened out

  88. anjin-san says:

    I’m not playing your game

  89. Rick Almeida says:

    Bit,

    [T]here wouldn’t be nearly the price differential, to the advantage of the Japanese, if their labor costs were as high as they are here in the states. Study after study for the last couple of decades has proven that point.

    The first sentence quoted is an assumption. Let me formulate an equally viable counter:

    “Labor costs are lower in Japan and South Korea because the government picks up the cost of providing some benefits, like health care, shifting that part of the labor cost from the private sector to the public.”

    Let me also add a third:

    “Labor costs are lower in Japan and South Korea because the governments artificially deflate the value of their currencies, giving an unfair advantage.”

    Now, we have three testable hypotheses. I’ve got to prep a class, but I offer this article, with this money quote (pun unintended):

    After taking a look at the client’s manufacturing procedures and comparing them to those of the Japanese rival, Gottfredson’s team was able to disprove the client’s long-held assumption that lower labor costs were a key factor behind the Japanese firm’s manufacturing cost advantage.

    The real explanation was more subtle: The Japanese company offered fewer customization options on its vehicles, so it had a much more efficient manufacturing process. In contrast, the American firm offered so many customization options that the complexity ate up a disproportionate amount of some workers time while generating downstream delays for others.

    Also, ““>Chrysler matches Toyota in efficiency”.

    And Bloomberg tells us that Ford’s labor costs are only about $2 more per hour than Toyota’s.

    In other news, I read this morning that Georgia is giving over $400 million in tax breaks and incentives to Kia in exchange for an assembly plant that will employe 2500 workers.

    This seems like a pretty bad bargain to me.

  90. Bithead says:

    I’ll suggest to you that Detroit coming up with a good vehicle is about the same as a blind pig finding an acorn.

    I’d say offhand that qualifies as ‘occasionally’.

    “Labor costs are lower in Japan and South Korea because the government picks up the cost of providing some benefits, like health care, shifting that part of the labor cost from the private sector to the public.”

    That’s arguably a factor but doesn’t account for the lion’s share of the issue.

    And Bloomberg tells us that Ford’s labor costs are only about $2 more per hour than Toyota’s.

    Good point, but we’re not loking at this in the frame of time. I daresay when they grabed the market share, the labor costs were not nearly as close. Also, if I recall correctly, that’s US labor costs we’re talking about… involving US plants… in that particular quote, not US vs Japan.

  91. Rick Almeida says:

    That’s arguably a factor but doesn’t account for the lion’s share of the issue.

    […]

    Good point, but we’re not loking at this in the frame of time. I daresay when they grabed the market share, the labor costs were not nearly as close.

    Asserted without evidence.

    lso, if I recall correctly, that’s US labor costs we’re talking about… involving US plants… in that particular quote, not US vs Japan.

    This could be, I didn’t read as carefully as I could have. A second read confirms you’re correct, fair enough.

  92. Grewgills says:

    Ah, yes .
    AN appeal to an authority, wich if it disagrees with your POV, you’ll promptly reject out of hand. You see, I’ve seen it too often before.

    No sale.

    translation:
    People asked me for cites before, I referred them to Powerline, they said it was biased, therefor all requests for cites are BS.

    I win.

  93. anjin-san says:

    Well bit, its pretty clear that you don’t know who the hero of Atlas Shrugged was. Why is this no surprise?