Author Topic: Are modern cars too safe, do people drive better when they feel more vulnerable  (Read 3594 times)

marcus

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Apparently the Government, Motor industry and insurers are at last starting to change the focus of car safety from the OCCUPANTS to the world OUTSIDE their car.

I think that people in most modern cars feel safe and secure because of all the impact absorbing zones, airbags, seat belts, Side Impact protection, rigid safety cells, Anti-lock brakes, run-flat tyres etc. This leads them to take greater risks, and cut everyone else up in the process, safe in the knowledge that they will almost certainly never get hurt.

People in older, smaller and more modest cars, e.g. micros KNOW that they are likely to get hurt if they take chances, so they drive more sensibly and carefully.

I am pondering this now because YET ANOTHER accident occurred just outside my yard, one of hundreds every year, often caused by people pulling out of our road into the main road. It IS difficult to get out there, and when the Council announced changes to the junction loads of us suggested a mini-roundabout, but the Council, as always, knew better!

This accident happened when a large modern executive estate car, driven by a middle-aged man, pulled out too close in front of fast traffic approaching on the main road. He obviously thought he had enough acceleration to do it, and enough strength in his car to not have to worry about any consequences. Big crash, loads of Police, ambulances and fire engines to block the road, cut out the driver, and get him to casualty.

But now the best part....what did he choose to pull out directly in front of?
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A big van. Painted with Flourescent colours. Words like NHS Ambulance written all over it. Lots of flashing lights and sirens blaring out. But that all meant nothing to Mr Executive in his large, comfortable, fast, powerful, "SAFE" modern car !
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Jawmedead

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This accident happened when a large modern executive estate car, driven by a middle-aged man


Middle-aged man. This is a male aged 40 to 60. Glad I'm passed it.

Large modern executive estate car.  B.M.W., Mercedes, Hummer?

I bet the driver had his music system blaring out or chatting on his mobile not to hear the sirens.
 

marcus

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Large modern executive estate car.  B.M.W., Mercedes, Hummer?

I bet the driver had his music system blaring out or chatting on his mobile not to hear the sirens.
 

Music and phones...another example of how people have come to feel too safe and comfortable in their modern cars !
MB, or Ford, hard to tell once the impact and cutting equipment have left their mark.
If I had been there on my cycle instead of that ambulance....
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Bob Purton

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Marcus, I couldn't agree more! People are far too cosseted in there big fast cars, especially 4X4's. No one else matters but them. BMW drivers are the worst! {not Isetta's!} They think they are It but are surely the worst drivers on the road today. I know there must be some good ones as well but its strange that when ever anyone cuts me up or does something stupid they are always behind the wheel of one of these drug dealer BMW's.

marcus

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Them and Mercedes Benz ! Did people drive like that in Austin A30s, minis, Ford Pops, bubbles and micros, Morris Minor's etc.? Nope! They knew they could get hurt. There always were a few numpties in Jags etc., but luxury/performance cars were so rare 30 years ago that they were far less of a nuisance. I am not against big modern cars, just that they DO seem to encourage the numpties.
How about every large, modern powerful luxury car (Schhh, you know who!) when it is sold the buyer has to pay an extra, say  £4,000 Advance Fine, for dangerous/arrogant/aggressive/stupid/illegal driving to come!
Just remember: as one door closes behind you, another slams in your face

Chris Thomas

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Dear Bob and Marcus

While I have every sympathy for your opinions I think you should reflect on your words as the early bubble cars were BMW's along with the 600. Are all these drivers numties. Also there are some Microcar owners who also own BMW's are they numpties.

I think it may be that Numpties buy cars that have a certain image and modern day BMW's have that certain image. Not all BMW drivers are bad. In fact I know a few that are very good (note Mr Clarkson does not own a BMW at the moment) .

I know that when I rode a motor bike I was a very good motorist as I knew that one mistake and I could get heart, and that is not a bad state of affairs, provided the car does not bite like some Porche 911 turbo 's that are very tail happy in the wet.

I am sure that modern executive barges insulate you from reality and therefore make their drivers a little too overconfident. Some older drivers have reactions that are slower than they were. We all need to understand our limitations and those of the machine we are driving and drive accordingly. So I would not blame all 4x4 drivers or BMW drivers or any other kind of machine. All I would say is give a wide berth to any saloon car driver that is wearing a hat while driving, be they young or old. I do not know what it is but their brains are not inside their hats.

If you keep up this thread we could persuade ourselves that everybody should drive bubblecars.

Chris Thomas

marcus

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Fair dos, Chris, but Bob did put {not Isettas} in his post!
 Of course there are good and bad drivers in ALL types of vehicle, but I feel that levels of brain-dead stupidity are increasing. Not just drivers too... when I am out on my push bike these days I am truly STAGGERED by the huge numbers of pedestrians who walk in the road or in the cycle lane, often with children/babies in pushchairs, and often jawing away on mobiles, totally oblivious of danger. Some actually get angry when they have to get back onto the pavement! And all the news stories and clips recently of drivers and pedestrians taking extraordinary risks on level crossings. Even Lemmings don't behave like that!
Perhaps our Health and Safety culture has made people assume that everything is now "safe", so they can go ahead and do the dumbest things.
Anyway, the point of my original title/question was to debate these issues.
 A fellow I know has always said that the best way to get drivers to drive safely and considerately is to set steel spikes in the steering wheel pointing at the driver's chest ! Also, an interesting aside to all this is the Boeing 737 which came down short of the runway 3 weeks ago at Amsterdam seems to have had an instrument failure, but all 3 flight crew were not checking the reality outside the cockpit, being so used to automatic systems doing it all....if they had felt more at risk, they might have been paying better attention, and this is central to my question
Just remember: as one door closes behind you, another slams in your face

Jawmedead

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Oh dear, there was me hoping to get a 4x4 because I am finding it difficult getting in and out of smaller, lower cars.
Shall I be called a Numptie then? What ever that is.

Had too laugh about the type of driver and their car.  In the 1960s us yobs noticed that Reliant owners seem to have large eyes sticking out their heads. (In fear of their car?)  In 1970s, beware of Austin/Morris 1100 drivers if they wore a cap/hat and worse if they smoked a pipe as well.

There you have it Marcus, talking on your mobile so you are not concentrating on what's going on around you. This includes hands-free phones and loud music in cars. You see it everywhere, people texting, head down not looking where they're going.

Do you have a bell or audible warning on your bicycle?

My Brother and I used to thrash around in a Peel P50, Scootacar MkII, Frisky Family Three and A.C. Petite in 1976. With the Peel large cars always seem to be in my way! It's a damn nuisance when a Rolls Royce overtakes you when you're doing 40mph, (yes it did that speed) and then slows to 20mph have a gawk.

I had a BMW motorcycle back in the 1970s Chris, best bike I ever had.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2009, 08:26:58 PM by Jawmedead »

marcus

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Numptie comes from Carla's son, it just means twit. On my bike there is a bell and a loudmouth (when the situation demands)! I actually think that in an ideal world all prospective car drivers should first have to do 100 hours on a push bike, 100 on a moped or motorcycle, and 100 hours in a big van, just to see how it feels to be cut up all the time, and it would make them better drivers! But that just makes ME a numpty!
Just remember: as one door closes behind you, another slams in your face

Jawmedead

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I agree with you on the cycles and mopeds for road craft before learning to drive a car but big vans! It's bad enough around here with the boy racers in their small tuned cars. 100s of white vans, that's worse.

I found Numpty in my thesaurus, it's Scottish for twit. In US it's doofus or schmuck amongst others. My favourite is Pillock and I've been one all my life.  ;D

marcus

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I quite like "Dictaphone", but then again, it's what came out of my mouth when someone cut me up, I think the 2nd syllable was meant to be head ! For vans i just meant they should see what it's like driving a big slow vehicle and getting cut up all the time. Like when I'm out in my LWB Hi Top Transit: people see, start overtaking even when there is something coming the other way, then get stroppy at me when they have to brake and swerve, or pull out directly in front of me like that NED did today.
(Actually, he was more Exec than NED, but just thought I'd give you another Scottish word, theirs for Chav. It means Non-Educated Delinquent)
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AndrewG

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A few thoughts on this:

- Car crash performance has improved immeasurably in the last 10-15 years, but in round numbers there are exactly the same number of road deaths now as then.  Road traffic volume has gone up, but you can argue that affects the results both ways (no crashes in gridlock...).  So these numbers are yet another demonstration of risk homeostasis (or risk compensation) - make something safer and people will choose to draw a benefit by acting more dangerously.

- Safer vehicles not making people safer isn't new.  The one area that seems to show a definite benefit is road design - better junctions, etc really can reduce road injuries.

- The ability of big vehicles to make you feel safe and so to allow you to act in a less responsible way has been properly recorded in a research project (it actually got published in the Lancet or the BMJ!) - 4x4 drivers are several times more likely than car drivers to be not wearing a seat belt or to be using a handheld mobile phone.  As these vehicles are also a much greater risk to other road users, there's a decent case for sticking a lower speed limit on them, as for trucks.

Andrew

marcus

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Good points Andrew. When I first started going to America on business around 1994 4WDs had become popular. My business partner and his family were already complaining about never being able to find their normal height car in a car park because the view of it was always blocked by big vehicles; and on the TV news on my first visit there was an item all about the insurers putting a big increase on premiums for 4WD because they were crashing far more often, and when the crashed their mass did far more damage to infrastructure, and far worse injuries to people in other cars. We are only just starting to wake up to this in UK.
Another point about safety was on Tomorrow's World which I remember well in the late 70s or early 80s: Anti Lock Braking Systems. They showed an experimental one, I think on a BMW, and described how it worked, and the different braking behaviour of 2 identical cars, one with ABS and one without. They said that this new technology would hugely reduce the number of rear impacts. The reality was that within weeks of getting a car with ABS, drivers would know their braking ability and follow other cars closer, and now most cars have ABS there are just as many rear impacts as before ABS.
Actually, I am not AGAINST large cars/4WDs, everyone has the right to have whatever suits their needs...I have a big van for when I need to move big loads, but prefer to use smaller vehicles or push bike if poss.

« Last Edit: March 12, 2009, 11:30:50 AM by marcus »
Just remember: as one door closes behind you, another slams in your face