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Shopping: Top Car Safety Myths
What’s true and false when it comes to protecting your family?
by Eric Peters 8/25/2003


Minivans are considered extremely “safe” vehicles by most people — but because they’re classified by the federal government as “light trucks,” they don’t have to meet the same bumper-impact standards as passenger cars. That means even a minor impact can result in major damage.
It’s just one of the conundrums of car and truck safety. What you think is safest might not be so.
Another popular belief that’s in error relates to SUVs. Like minivans, SUVs are classified as “light trucks” by the government — and light trucks also do not have to meet the same roof-crush standards as passenger cars. That means in a rollover, an SUV’s (or minivan’s) roof may not hold up as well as a car’s, possibly resulting in serious injury, even death.
On the other hand, the currently voguish notion that SUVs are more dangerous than cars is stilted, too. While SUVs may be more likely to roll over in certain situations, such as abrupt maneuvering or high-speed cornering, it’s also true that their generally larger size and mass confers an inherent safety advantage in most types of crashes. SUVs are also less likely to slide out of control on slippery surfaces — if driven properly — decreasing the potential for an accident in wet/wintry conditions.
More myths of the road
Another popular myth holds that an airbag-equipped car is the safest vehicle you can buy. In fact, size and weight matters more. A 4500-pound full-size car, even without airbags, offers better occupant protection/survivability than a 2500-pound compact that has them. Airbags help make compact and subcompact cars more crashworthy but they can’t compensate entirely for the inherent safety advantage of driving a larger, heavier vehicle, even without airbags.
It’s also assumed by many that modern cars with anti-lock brakes (ABS) are safer than older cars without ABS; however, several studies have found that drivers of ABS-equipped cars often fail to fully depress the brake pedal in a panic stop, not realizing that the ABS system will prevent the wheels from locking and causing the vehicle to skid. Failure to fully brake means greater stopping distances and a higher likelihood of hitting whatever’s in front of you. ABS-equipped cars are only safer than non-ABS-equipped cars if the system is used as designed.
Then there’s the old saw “speed kills.” In fact, federal accident and fatality data shows that it’s the slow-moving driver who is more likely to be the cause of an accident — not the one driving 5-10 mph above the posted limit. Modern highways are designed for safe travel at speeds of approximately 75 mph, yet most states have arbitrarily lowered maximums to 55-65 mph, principally as a means of generating “revenue” via the issuance speeding tickets. Still, the majority of drivers ignore these under-posted limits and the average speed on most highways is 70-75 mph. The handful of drivers who stick to the under-posted limit out of fear of being ticketed (or timidity) create obstacles and interrupt the smooth flow of traffic — which in turn makes it more likely there’ll be an accident as other driver abruptly slow down, speed up, tailgate, and attempt to get around the dawdler. Those who drive 10 mph slower than the flow are fully six times as likely to be in accident than those traveling 5-10-mph faster than the average flow of traffic.
Final falsehoods
Another faleshood: Your child is always safer in the back seat. Though airbags, especially the older ones that aren’t “de-powered,” can injure or kill a child riding in the front passenger seat in the event of an accident, studies have shown that a parent distracted by a child in the back seat is more likely to have an accident in the first place. Up front, it’s easier for a parent to keep and eye on a child while also keeping an eye on the road. It’s arguably smarter to take steps to avoid having an accident to begin with than it is to fixate on how best to soften the impact of an accident that’s more likely to happen as a result of distracted driving.
Finally, there’s the oldie (but still a goodie) about seat belts that holds you’re less likely to be trapped in a wrecked car if you don’t buckle up. In fact, the odds of being violently ejected from the vehicle and dying are massively greater than the chances of being trapped inside by a seat belt.
The bottom line on vehicular safety is that it’s nuanced, like most things in life. The best approach is to get all the facts — not just the conventional wisdom — and base your decision accordingly.

http://www.thecarconnection.com/index.asp?article=6327
 

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2005 CTS-V, 1994 Infiniti Q45
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Very interesting.......
 
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