Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Safety Paranoia

I'm not sure when it happened or why (ok, I know in general why), but, as a nation, we are absolutely petrified about being "safe." Too much so. No, this isn't about the war, or terrorism, though those are certainly related. This is about auto safety and crash tests. Fine, the government and insurance companies test cars for their safety in various crashes and certain safety devices are required. From the perspective of those two groups it makes sense as safer cars mean less severe injuries which results in smaller hospital bills. Further for automakers, it makes sense to capitalize on the paranoia by touting safety devices and encouraging said paranoia makes sense. So I get it. All of it. That doesn't make it okay, though. In particular this is regarding the "small car vs. big car" aspect touted in the article.

Reading the article one gets the distinct impression that one will suffer and/or die if they choose a small car over, say, a tank. In particular, this leads parents to think "well, I don't want to drive an Envoy, but it's the only way for my children to be safe." Of course, one of the largest reasons that small cars are less safe is because large cars are on the road (most accidents do not involve running into buildings). If the circular reasoning remains unbroken this leads to a nifty little downward spiral of more ridiculous vehicles on the roads. There is no compelling reason for 99.9% of the population to own a vehicle larger than a Scion or Yaris or Civic. None. Not one. Our roads would be safer if people drove smaller cars because response times and visibility would be notably improved. This is never minding the financial side of things: smaller cars have less impact. Yes, impact means environmental in terms of burning less fuel, resulting in lower gas costs and prices, but it also means infrastructural in terms of less road wear, resulting in reduced road work costs, and it also means physical, as in when an accident does occur there is less [energy contained in the] impact, which could mean less cost in terms of repair and hospitalization--for the other driver.

All told, if everyone were driving smaller cars, everyone would be safer, there would be less of an impact on the planet, and we would spend less on infrastructure upkeep. Small cars are not dangerous, they're responsible.

1 comment:

Michael L. Heien said...


I agree. After everyone gets a small car I will be able to drive my tank, and be that much safer.