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50 years of auto safety
Old 09-18-2009, 01:58 PM   #1
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50 years of auto safety



"This test was for IIHS's 50th year anniversary in the safety research business. . .

The dummy in the Malibu suffered only minor leg injuries while the dummy in the Bel Air would have dies instantly, this really shows how auto safety has progressed."
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Old 09-18-2009, 04:33 PM   #2
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I'm NOT disputing the outcome and conclusions, but.......

I wonder why they offset the two cars so that the driver side of the Malibu front end did not come into contact with the Belaire upon collision? The driver side of the Belaire front end hits the center of the Malibu front end. The overhead view shows it best.

I'm sure there was some engineering reason for setting the test up this way. Any of you tech types understand why they did it this way?

Very interesting. Thanks for posting Martha.
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Old 09-18-2009, 05:07 PM   #3
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Frontal offset test information
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In offset tests, only one side of a vehicle's front end, not the full width, hits the barrier so that a smaller area of the structure must manage the crash energy. This means the front end on the struck side crushes more than in a full-width test, and intrusion into the occupant compartment is more likely. The bottom line is that full-width tests are especially demanding of restraints but less demanding of structure, while the reverse is true in offsets.

The Institute began frontal offset crash testing in 1995.
They also say they need to be in the same weight class, which I assume these are. I've seen a bunch of these on the highway, I assume all going to a car show, and all I could think of is that I would not want to be on the road with one, other than a little scenic driving. I wonder what the stopping distance was in those things?

-ERD50
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Old 09-18-2009, 11:28 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by youbet View Post
............I wonder why they offset the two cars so that the driver side of the Malibu front end did not come into contact with the Belaire upon collision? The driver side of the Belaire front end hits the center of the Malibu front end. The overhead view shows it best.

I'm sure there was some engineering reason for setting the test up this way. Any of you tech types understand why they did it this way?

Very interesting. Thanks for posting Martha.
The 2009 Malibu is about a foot narrower than the '59 Chevy. Each car has it's centerline marked, as can be seen in the top view.

So the opposite matching points will not be the same, if you know what I mean. They would only match their opposing car if both cars had the same width, and also the same outline looking down from the top.
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Old 09-18-2009, 11:38 PM   #5
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Frontal offset test information


They also say they need to be in the same weight class, which I assume these are. I've seen a bunch of these on the highway, I assume all going to a car show, and all I could think of is that I would not want to be on the road with one, other than a little scenic driving. I wonder what the stopping distance was in those things?

-ERD50
Stopping distance? With drum brakes all around, longer.
After driving through water... a lot lot lot longer! When I learned to drive, after driving through water, even just a big puddle, you tried the brakes a few times immediately on the other side: (a) to see if you had any braking effect at all (b) to squeeze water out from between the shoes and drums, then to create heat to evaporate the rest of the water.
With non-power drum brakes, wet drums and shoes were like glass, no matter how hard you pushed down the pedal and tried to rip the steering wheel off for leverage, you ain't stoppin'.

These days I see people drive through water like they were piloting a speed boat instead of a car.
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Old 09-19-2009, 10:06 AM   #6
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Kinda sad to see that ole beauty sacrificed just to prove a point. The newer car slices through the old like a hot knife through butter.

Beyond the laws that mandated crash safety, the big difference is the use of Computer Aided Engineering (CAE). When I started in the industry, designs were still drawn out on paper by draftsmen. When I left, one could model an entire car in three dimensions with accurate material properties on every part. This enables one to not only virtually crash test it, but also to test for serviceability, refine the ride and handling, noise and vibration characteristics and do durability testing.
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Old 09-19-2009, 10:58 AM   #7
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It is sad to sacrifice that 58, but point is an important one. I don't know how many times I've heard somebody say, "They don't make'm like they used to." Well, that is correct, but for exactly the wrong reason. Yes, the body panels on that 58 probably are heavier gauge steel, the bumper is a "real, chromium-plated piece of solid steel" instead of that "plastic stuff".

Well, watch the video closely. The 09 penetrates into the 58 all the way to the B pillar (rear edge of the front door), obliterating the driver's space. Conversely, the 09 model driver's space remains completely intact. You can best see this from the above shot. The A pillar and front edge of the windshield remains intact. The old cars may have been "built like tanks", but the new cars have engineered crumple zones (pioneered by Mercedes-Benz) that sacrifice the car for your safety.

Even worse, the 58 has a solid steel spear aimed at the driver's chest steering column while the 09 has an energy absorbing steering column.

Seat belts weren't even required until the mid 60s. Remember what a fight it was to get folks to use them?

If I remember correctly, it was California back in the 50s that began using crash tests to evaluate guardrail design. I have seen videos from the 50s of the original tests, but can't find one on the web to post . They found that inexpensive changes to guardrails (zero cost if built that way from the start) made huge differences in the dangers of collisions. Road safety is now a big field, our roads are much safer because of it.

Yeah engineers!
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Old 09-19-2009, 02:55 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
Frontal offset test information


They also say they need to be in the same weight class, which I assume these are. I've seen a bunch of these on the highway, I assume all going to a car show, and all I could think of is that I would not want to be on the road with one, other than a little scenic driving. I wonder what the stopping distance was in those things?

-ERD50
Thanks for the offset info.....

I had 57, 60 and 62 fullsize chevy's, all probably similar to the 59 they tested here in terms of crash performance. Don't recall ever feeling at risk driving them. But, OTOH, was never in a significant crash and certainly didn't know any better at the time.

A lot has changed thanks to technology. Safer, less routine maintenance, longer engine life and all that.
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Old 09-19-2009, 03:02 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
Frontal offset test information


They also say they need to be in the same weight class, which I assume these are.
Actually, comparing cars only in the same weight class would be a huge mistake. Example: you and your family are cruising the highway in a Honda Civic and have a head-to-head collision with a big, ugly Ford Expedition SUV. You're all dead (decapitated) and the SUV driver has a few minor aches and pains. I don't think you're going to be able to cry foul and ask for a "do-over" with a vehicle in the same weight class because, heck, you're dead.

I understand that it's informative to know that if you want to buy a light car, which one has the best crash ratings. But I think it's more informative to know how your car would stand up to other cars and trucks of varous sizes on the road. That's what everyday driving subjects you to.
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Old 09-19-2009, 04:33 PM   #10
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[QUOTE=IndependentlyPoor;...

Yeah engineers![/QUOTE]

I concur but the video salutes the insurance industry.
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Old 09-20-2009, 12:10 AM   #11
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Actually, comparing cars only in the same weight class would be a huge mistake. Example: you and your family are cruising the highway in a Honda Civic and have a head-to-head collision with a big, ugly Ford Expedition SUV. You're all dead (decapitated) and the SUV driver has a few minor aches and pains. I don't think you're going to be able to cry foul and ask for a "do-over" with a vehicle in the same weight class because, heck, you're dead.

I understand that it's informative to know that if you want to buy a light car, which one has the best crash ratings. But I think it's more informative to know how your car would stand up to other cars and trucks of varous sizes on the road. That's what everyday driving subjects you to.
How would you standardize the test though?
Run tests for 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50% on up to 200% weight classes?

I do agree that additional information would be a good thing, but how do you handle different weight classes so that the information is still meaningful.
May as well test the SUVs against buses and semi trailers as well then
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Old 09-20-2009, 07:04 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by youbet View Post
Actually, comparing cars only in the same weight class would be a huge mistake. Example: you and your family are cruising the highway in a Honda Civic and have a head-to-head collision with a big, ugly Ford Expedition SUV. You're all dead (decapitated) and the SUV driver has a few minor aches and pains. I don't think you're going to be able to cry foul and ask for a "do-over" with a vehicle in the same weight class because, heck, you're dead.

I understand that it's informative to know that if you want to buy a light car, which one has the best crash ratings. But I think it's more informative to know how your car would stand up to other cars and trucks of varous sizes on the road. That's what everyday driving subjects you to.
It seems clear most people know that an Expedition (driven by a soccer Mom on a cellphone) will prevail in an accident with a Civic. Unfortunately that knowledge is one of the reasons Americans are 5% of the world's population and yet we consume 24% of the world's resources...
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Old 09-20-2009, 07:47 AM   #13
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How would you standardize the test though?
Run tests for 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50% on up to 200% weight classes?
I think most of the test results we commonly see are based on tests that do not involve vehicle to vehicle crashes but rather vehicle to some standard such as a crash simulator.
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I do agree that additional information would be a good thing, but how do you handle different weight classes so that the information is still meaningful.
May as well test the SUVs against buses and semi trailers as well then
I suppose. I just don't find the testing of cars of similar weight vs. one another to be useful. It's not that likely that I'll collide with another car in the same class as my own.

I think testing cars vs some standard (which is what I think is done) plus evaluating risks involved with dissimilar vehicles colliding makes sense. But, obviously, I'm no expert......
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Old 09-20-2009, 08:08 AM   #14
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It seems clear most people know that an Expedition (driven by a soccer Mom on a cellphone) will prevail in an accident with a Civic. Unfortunately that knowledge is one of the reasons Americans are 5% of the world's population and yet we consume 24% of the world's resources...
Or, if you peel another layer off the onion, wouldn't we consume less energy if we made living away from urban areas extremely expensive and then planned our urban areas for superb public transportation?

Then grandpa's who drive their grandkids around frequently wouldn't have to make the decision about which car to buy based on vehicle to vehicle crash test results and their strong desire to keep the grandkids safe.

It isn't a Civic vs. Expedition issue. It's a private vs. public transportation issue. Don't go to high mileage cars. Go to public transportation.
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Old 09-20-2009, 08:14 AM   #15
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But I think it's more informative to know how your car would stand up to other cars and trucks of varous sizes on the road. That's what everyday driving subjects you to.
Did you see this video? Big older Volvo wagon vs. newer small Renault. I like watching these kinds of crashes where the vehicles aren't equals in size.

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Old 09-20-2009, 08:31 AM   #16
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That was great Trek, thanks!
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Old 09-20-2009, 10:14 AM   #17
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Here in the land of red light runners, you're probably at a much higher risk of being t-boned...
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Old 09-20-2009, 10:22 AM   #18
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...
I think testing cars vs some standard (which is what I think is done) plus evaluating risks involved with dissimilar vehicles colliding makes sense. But, obviously, I'm no expert......
Neither am I, and I agree with you. That information IS helpful.
However, it is far to variable, where do you stop and how do you give that information to the public without their eyes glazing over?
The standardized tests (same weight class) gives some information without being over complicated.
What I think would be useful without overload would be a generalized comparison of how vehicles of different sizes handle collisions against the same size class.
So in an Expedition vs Expedition the expected casualties are X.
In a Civic vs Civic at the same speed, angles, etc, the expected casualties are Y.
Compare X vs Y.

I agree with you about mass transit and city planning. However, why not go for the lower hanging fruit of efficiency? Getting Americans to change their mindsets and city structures is going to take a lot more effort than changing the average efficiency of the light vehicle fleet.
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Old 09-20-2009, 10:25 AM   #19
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Here in the land of red light runners, you're probably at a much higher risk of being t-boned...
That's why my Honda Civic has side air bags, side head curtain air bags and side guard door beams.

Yes, I have an axe to grind here. I would like to see more small cars on the road to reduce our dependence of foreign oil, reduce pollution, slow global warming, and extend the life of our petroleum reserves. I think a lot of people buy large cars partially because they believe small cars unsafe. I believe at least some of that concern is unfounded.
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Old 09-20-2009, 10:30 AM   #20
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Americans are 5% of the world's population and yet we consume 24% of the world's resources...
Is this a great country, or what?
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