If Bigger is Safer, Why so Many Local Articles Like This?

Discussion in 'General' started by Chuck, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    BEDFORD - A fatal multi-vehicle car accident Tuesday on Airport Freeway shut down part of the highway in Bedford for hours as police investigated the scene.

    Investigators said an SUV was changing lanes at about 6:30 p.m. when it clipped another car. Witnesses said the SUV flipped over four to five times. The driver of the SUV was killed. The driver of the other car was sent to a hospital with injuries that were reportedly not life-threatening.


    Hubris defined
  2. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Chuck:

    ___The P/U and SUV’s Fatal flaw :ccry:

    ___Good Luck

  3. basjoos

    basjoos Well-Known Member

    I've seen those police chase videos where a pursuing police car just needs to lightly kiss the rear inside wheel of the SUV with the front bumper of their patrol car while the SUV is making a low speed turn and the SUV will instantly flip onto its roof.
  4. worthywads

    worthywads Don't Feel Like Satan, I am to AAA

    This may well be the way the local media reports it or simply a bias in perception but the IIHS data shows that bigger is safer.


    These figures are in "Driver deaths per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old, by crash type, 2005". They are sub-divided into multiple vehicle (MV) accident deaths, single vehicle (SV), and single vehicle rollover (SVR) deaths and the combined ALL deaths.

    Here are cars compared by size.

    Size MV SV SVR ALL
    Mini 94 50 31 144
    small 61 45 24 106
    Mid 39 32 14 70
    Large 43 25 11 67
    Huge 27 16 7 44

    The first number Multiple Vehicle (MV) has an improving trend small to large from 94 mini to 27 Huge with the only exception being the Mid is slightly better than Large.

    The second number Single Vehicle (SV) also has an improving trend small to large from 50 mini to 16 huge, no exceptions this time.

    The third number Single Vehicle Rollover (SVR) is the portion of the SV number that were rollovers. Again the trend improves from small to huge.

    The final number combines MV and SV and indeed trends strongly in favor of larger vehicles.

    A comparison of Cars vs SUV finds that SUVs result in fewer deaths than cars.

    Mini MV SV SVR ALL
    Car 94 50 31 144
    suv no such vehicle

    CAR 61 45 24 106
    2WD 37 29 18 66
    4wd 24 33 21 57

    The smallest SUVs have less rollover deaths than small cars, but overall combined 42% less deaths. Compared to MINI small SUVs also have lower rollover and combined 134% less deaths.

    CAR 39 32 14 70
    2WD 28 46 34 74
    4wd 17 31 21 57

    Now SUVs have a much higher rollover death rate, but if you subtract the SVR from the SV it appears that people die more frequently in SV car accidents than SV SUV accidents. Cars 18, 2wd 12, 4wd 10. That would suggest that plowing into an inanimate object is safer in an SUV.

    Again overall midsize SUV combined are 6% less deaths.

    The growing trend is 4wd SUV is much safer tha Car or 2wd SUV.

    CAR 43 25 11 67
    2WD 19 33 30 52
    4wd 16 28 18 45

    Still bad news for SUV rollover and somehow 2wd SUV single vehicle is almost always a rollover, but still safer than a car. In all areas the Large vehicle is safer than the midsize. Similar trend, if you're going to crash into something, much safer in an SUV.

    Very Large
    CAR 27 16 7 44
    4wd 8 16 8 24

    Here the single vehicle numbers are almost identical but the 4wd SUV is by far the safest vehicle of all categories. Hard for me to conclude that the biggest 4wd SUV isn't the safest vehicle on the road.

    If my top concern was personal safety, I'd explore the big SUVs to find which of them was the safest.

    CAR 46 33 16 79
    2WD 27 39 30 66
    4wd 18 31 20 49

    It is often speculated here that there is no value to 4wd, yet the IIHS data shows that in every size the 4wd vs 2wd SUV shows a reduction in deaths with 4wd.

    I understand that these are simply averages and individual vehicles may perform a lot worse or a lot better than the average in each class size but it seems to be undeniable that on average larger cars have fewer deaths than smaller cars and larger 4wd SUVs have few deaths than smaller 4wd SUV and similar sized or smaller cars.
  5. Elixer

    Elixer Well-Known Member

    the problem with your statistics is that it doesn't take driving habits into account, which play as much of a factor in vehicle death rates as the vehicle driven.

    This is clearly shown by the fact that 4wd cars have fewer deaths than 2wd cars. Obviously a identical car that is 4wd has no advantage over 2wd car in an accident. Are we really to believe then that 4wd prevented this many accidents? The kind of accidents 4wd could save you from are not the fatal ones - driving in snow/mud at 25mph and having an accident is very unlikely to be fatal. Therefore the difference must be the driver. People who buy 4wd cars are safer drivers than those who drive 2wd.

    So, if there is such a large disparity between 2wd and 4wd cars based upon the driver, it's logical to assume that the same disparity exists between drivers of small and large cars.

    To me it is logical that large cars are safer than smaller ones, however if safety is important you should consider the individual car's safety statistics and ratings, not the size of the car. Don't trust statistics, because they show correlation not cause.
  6. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    As Elixer hints, false security behind the wheel often turns into hubris.
  7. Vooch

    Vooch Well-Known Member

    Sorry, but bigger isn't safer - I am familiar with the stats you cite, they are heavily skewed by some poorly designed small cars.

    Well designed is safer. A tiny car beats almost every single large car in your survey:

    the Audi A4 wagon

    You are much safer in the tiny Audi A4 than a Lincoln or a Hummer

    the mid sized Passat car beats 350 out of 372 cars in your survey - it beats every single pick-up, every single large US made car, almost every single SUV, every single Minivan, etc. etc.

    There was a good article in Science magazine a couple of issues back which reviewed the empirical data in some detail. It concluded that bigger is not better.

    Highway Loss 5 year data Safest:

    36 Porsche(s) Mid Sports
    41 Ford T-Bird Conv Large Sports
    41 Toyota Land Cruiser Large SUV
    45 Audi A4 wagon Small Wagon
    46 Mercedes SL Class Mid Sports
    49 Buck Park Ave Large Lux
    49 Range Rover Large SUV
    51 Jag XJ Large Lux
    52 Lexus LS 430 Large Lux
    53 Mercedes S class Very Large Lux
    53 Subaru Outback Mid Wagon
    53 Lexus LX 470 Large SUV
    54 Ford Freestyle Mid Wagon
    55 Buick LeSabre Large 4 DR
    55 Volvo XC90 Mid SUV
    56 Suburban Large SUV
    56 Yukon Large SUV
    56 VW Tourage Large SUV
    58 Volvo V70 wagon Large Lux
    58 Saab 9-5 Mid Lux
    58 Toyota Sienna Very Large Minivan
    58 Buick Rainier Mid SUV
    59 BMW 7 series Very Large Lux
    59 Audi A4 cabrio Small 2dr
    60 Audi A8 Very Large Lux
    60 Corvette Mid Sports
    61 Cadillac DeVille Large Lux
    61 Hummer H2 Very Large SUV
    61 Buick Rendezvous Mid SUV
    62 Mercedes E Class Large Lux
    62 Lexus SC 430 Mid Sports

    Death rates best cars (average 79)

    11 Infiniti G35 Mid Lux
    11 BMW 7 series V. large Lux
    13 Toyota 4 runner Mid SUV
    14 Audi A4 Mid Size
    14 Merc E class Large Lux
    14 Toyota Highlander Mid SUV
    14 Mercedes M class Mid SUV
    18 Lexus ES330 Mid Lux
    18 Toyota Sequoia Large SUV
    19 Honda Pilot Mid SUV
    19 BMW X5 Mid SUV
    21 Mercedes S class V. large Lux
    21 Chvy Avalanche Large SUV
    21 Infiniti QX56 Large SUV
    24 Mercedes C Mid Lux
    28 Lexus RX330 Mid SUV
    29 Volvo V70 Large Lux
    29 Volvo S80 Large Lux
    30 Lexus LS430 Large Lux
    30 Cadilac Seville Large Lux
    31 Ford Expedition Large SUV
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2008
  8. chief302

    chief302 Well-Known Member

    It appears more expensive is better, however...and you still can't deny the fact that most of the 'safer' vehicles are mid to large. I only see two small vehicles in the lot. I would say the Audi is an anomaly, not the norm, unfortunately. It also starts at over 30k, correct? It would be interesting to see the FE average for these top safety vehicles, not too many seem like real "hypermilers".
  9. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    Seems like a lot of those safer vehicles are negated by having overconfident, inattentive drivers.

    Those larger vehicles are more hazardous to whatever they collide with - particullary pedestrians...they tend to get more organ damage from a hit by the blunt front end. :(
  10. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    "The tiny Audi A4 wagon"- it is right on the edge of an outright lie to call the 3671 LB Audi A4 wagon tiny! 3671 is for the lightest version-the 4 cyl with the MT.The heaviest version-6 cyl AT with all the BS options is pushing 4000 lbs.I understand exaggerating to make a point, but....
    A 3671 lb car is pretty stout-explains its safety-lotta metal between the passengers and whatever hits it.All the German cars seem to be heavy for their length,width,height-no accident that MB brags about their safety-they use lots of metal to make them crashworthy(not a bad idea considering their no speed limit road).No surprise that expensive, heavily built cars are very safe.
  11. B.L.E.

    B.L.E. Well-Known Member

    You see Indy race car drivers walk away from some pretty horrible high speed crashes and those cars weigh how much?
    1550 pounds by the racing rules.
  12. worthywads

    worthywads Don't Feel Like Satan, I am to AAA

    And they cost how much?
  13. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    Not only does the Indy race car cost a lot more, but the IQ of the driver is usually a lot higher. ;)
  14. B.L.E.

    B.L.E. Well-Known Member

    A more relevent question would be "how much would it cost to make a thoroughly un-competitive indy car that incorporates all the features that let these drivers survive those crashes?".

    Imagine a built for one commuting car that only weighs 1500 pounds and has the driver seated in the center, maximizing the side crush zones. Make it extremely aerodynamic so it can cruise 70mph with only about 10 horsepower and you have a personal vehicle that's way safer than your typical motorcycle and gets much better mpg as well.

    I have ridden motorcycles all my life but I am really beginning to feel that a motorcycle that only gets 45-50 mpg sort of misses the whole point of a motorcycle.
  15. B.L.E.

    B.L.E. Well-Known Member

    While that may be true, when you hit the wall at 200 mph, a high IQ does about as much to help you survive that crash as the titanium connecting rods inside the engine do.
  16. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    True - chances of surviving that are slim.

    My point is a professional racer will survive things that will kill a lot of people on the streets in part because the guy on the street often is just doing stupid things.
  17. worthywads

    worthywads Don't Feel Like Satan, I am to AAA

    I'm not sure how this information makes your point that big isn't better but well designed is.

    The vast majority of vehicles on that list are mid/large SUVs and mid/large Lux. Well designed doesn't appear to be very common in small cars.

    As has been said, a 4000 lb Audi A4 Wagon is simply not a tiny car. The Chevy Avalanche and Ford Expeditions are apparently just well designed.

    Could you also list all of the cars that are higher than the average 79, I think we'd then see all of the small cars show up.
  18. Vooch

    Vooch Well-Known Member

    The 2000-05 series Audi A4 wagon has a 104 inch wheelbase - smaller than the 106" Prius.

    It is defined as a compact wagon.

    With the 75 kw gasoline engine (offered only in Europe) , I'd bet it would get something on order of 40 MPG EPA US combined cycle.

    I stand by my orginal claim, that small cars are not inherently unsafe.
  19. Dan

    Dan KiloTanked in post 153451

    Guess it all has to do with which group you get your stats from. Here's a similar (but different study) from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Their data seems to have a much wider distribution of curb weight across the good, ok, bad categories.

    Here's their data (sorted randomly ;) )

    {Edit: Changed "Killed Other Driver" to "Killed Others". After re-reading it, I don't think "Others" had to be drivers}

    Make/ModelTypeDriver DiedKilled OthersTotal Dead
    Chrysler Town & Countryminivan313667
    Lincoln Town Carlarge10047147
    Chevrolet SuburbanS.U.V.4659105
    Toyota Avalonlarge402060
    Volkswagen Jettasubcompact472370
    Chevrolet Malibumid-size7134105
    Mazda 626compact702999
    Nissan Maximamid-size532679
    Toyota 4RunnerS.U.V.9443137
    Jeep Grand CherokeeS.U.V.6144106
    Ford Windstarminivan373572
    Ford ExpeditionS.U.V.5557112
    Ford ExplorerS.U.V.8860148
    Nissan Altimacompact7249121
    Chevrolet Cavaliersubcompact14641186
    Pontiac Grand Amcompact11839157
    Ford Taurusmid-size7839117
    Chevrolet Ventureminivan513485
    Honda Accordmid-size542782
    Dodge Stratusmid-size10340143
    Toyota Tacomapickup11159171
    GMC JimmyS.U.V.7639114
    Pontiac Sunfiresubcompact15844202
    Honda Civicsubcompact8425109
    Buick Centurymid-size702393
    Chevrolet TahoeS.U.V.6874141
    Dodge Neonsubcompact16139199
    Toyota Corollasubcompact8129110
    Toyota Camrymid-size412970
    Nissan Sentrasubcompact9534129
    Ford F-Seriespickup110128238
    Subaru Legacy/Outbackcompact742498
    Mercury Marquislarge8043123

    Now running some averages across class. Subcompacts (110) have almost the exact same average of driver deaths as Trucks (110). Midsized sedans (67) have almost the exact same driver death rate as SUVs (69). Midsized sedans (67) have a lower driver death rate than large sedans (73), while subcompact (110) have a higher driver death rate than compacts (83). As for the "Other" deaths... Who cares, each man for himself.... Right?

    My conclusion.... Get a minivan (40).

    There are lies, d4mn lies and statistics.

    references: http://www.gladwell.com/2004/2004_01_12_a_suv.html

    As an added disclaimer so as not to offend. For all I know, they all did better than the Prius, so I could just be walking on borrowed time.

    Last edited: Mar 13, 2008
  20. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Dan:

    ___That was the best set of stats I have seen on the matter!

    ___Good Luck


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