The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Are our cars too safe?  (Read 5386 times)

Offline Don_1

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6890
  • Thanked: 7 times
  • A stupid comment for every occasion.
    • View Profile
    • Knight Light Haulage
Are our cars too safe?
« on: 25/09/2008 16:45:33 »
There can be no doubt that cars are very much safer today. With crumple zones, side impact protection, protective cage, pre-tensioning seat belts, air bags, ABS, traction control, adjustable suspension, anti-sleep devices, anti-collision devices and I havenít started on the steering and tyres.

Do you think it has given too many drivers a sense of security and safety which has caused them to disregard good driving practice and concentration?

Should we stop trying to make the driver feel invincible?


 

Offline techmind

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 934
  • Un-obfuscated
    • View Profile
    • techmind.org
Are our cars too safe?
« Reply #1 on: 25/09/2008 17:13:05 »
I've heard it suggested that we'd all be better drivers if there was a big spike on the steering wheel aimed at the chest of the driver...

Compared to my former bit of Surrey, Cambridge drivers are far worse for mobile-phone driving, and for tailgating.


I also felt far more enclosed (cocooned/invincible) in a recent Ford Focus than in a slightly older VW Polo. I found the Focus had poor control on the winding country roads and encouraged slovenly driving. I'll bet the Focus was more comfortable on the motorway though.
 

Offline RD

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8134
  • Thanked: 53 times
    • View Profile
Are our cars too safe?
« Reply #2 on: 25/09/2008 18:17:05 »
Should we stop trying to make the driver feel invincible?

Quote
The theory of risk homeostasis states that an individual has an inbuilt target level of acceptable risk which does not change. This level varies between individuals. When the level of acceptable risk in one part of the individual's life changes; there will be a corresponding rise/drop in acceptable risk elsewhere. The same, argues Wilde, is true of larger human systems (e.g. a population of drivers).

For example, in the famous Munich taxicab study, half of a fleet of cabs were equipped with antilock braking system (ABS) brakes, while the other half had older brake systems. The accident rate for both types of car (ABS and non-ABS) remained the same, because ABS-car drivers took more risks, assuming that ABS would take care of them. They raised their risk taking, assuming the ABS would then lower the real risks, leaving their "target level" of risk unchanged. The non-ABS drivers drove the same way, thinking that they had to be more careful, since ABS would not be there to help in case of a dangerous situation.
  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risk_homeostasis

The risk homeostasis hypothesis could only apply to situations where there is feedback.
« Last Edit: 25/09/2008 18:21:25 by RD »
 

Offline Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8676
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Are our cars too safe?
« Reply #3 on: 25/09/2008 20:36:54 »
I have often wondered about the efect of mounting a six inch (15cm) spike on the steering wheel of a car, pointing at the driver's chest.
Does anyone think it might reduce the number of accidents?
 

Offline Evie

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 200
  • "Back off man...I'm a Scientist."
    • View Profile
    • My Website
Are our cars too safe?
« Reply #4 on: 25/09/2008 20:41:48 »
The other thing about cars that gets me thinking is the sound-dampening. I see commercials quite often that talk about how quiet it is inside the car. Well, what about those things you need to hear, like ambulance sirens or screeching tires (warning you of that SUV that's about to crash into you)?
 

Offline Pumblechook

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 569
    • View Profile
Are our cars too safe?
« Reply #5 on: 26/09/2008 13:08:05 »
I am rather glad that my daughter was driving a car which crumpled up at the front end when a silly woman pulled out from her drive without looking.  It was amazing.  The front end was a complete wreck but from the font door pillar back it was as good as new.
 

Offline Don_1

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6890
  • Thanked: 7 times
  • A stupid comment for every occasion.
    • View Profile
    • Knight Light Haulage
Are our cars too safe?
« Reply #6 on: 26/09/2008 13:13:44 »
RD, you've hit the nail square on the head. The more protection the car offers, the less care and more chances the driver will take. The real problems arise when one of these highly protective car's is in collision with one that isn't so well equipped, or a motorcycle, cycle or pedestrian, or when the car is pushed beyond it's limits and runs into say a solid wall or 30 ton 8 wheel tipper.
 

Offline Don_1

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6890
  • Thanked: 7 times
  • A stupid comment for every occasion.
    • View Profile
    • Knight Light Haulage
Are our cars too safe?
« Reply #7 on: 26/09/2008 13:33:25 »
I am rather glad that my daughter was driving a car which crumpled up at the front end when a silly woman pulled out from her drive without looking.  It was amazing.  The front end was a complete wreck but from the font door pillar back it was as good as new.

I am sure you are not the only one to be thankful for the safety built into todays cars.

I do hope your daughter came out unscathed.

To use your example, do you wonder if that careless driver might have taken more care if he/she had not been feeling so safe in his/her protective shell, that they would have paid more attention to what they were doing?

I suppose I am asking, did their car's reputation for safety contribute to the accident taking place?

Actually, that should be incident, not accident. Accidents are unavoidable, this was an avoidable incident. If that driver had not felt so well protected by their car, would the incident have never occurred?
 

Offline Pumblechook

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 569
    • View Profile
Are our cars too safe?
« Reply #8 on: 26/09/2008 17:01:48 »
My daughter was just badly shaken with minor scratches.  It took place near where she lives ..100+ miles away from here..but she did take a picture of the car and e-mailed it.  I nearly cried..  The car looked awful..  I wasn't bothered about the blinkin' car.  It is thought of what could have happened, death or serious injury.  I gather the woman just pulled out without looking???  My daughter said the woman didn't seem too bothered inspite of a badly  damaged BMW and the possibility of having to re-take her test (the copper told my daughter that might be the case). Daughter's car was a Citroen Saxo..although it crumpled the airbag failed to inflate.

I don't know whether drivers are influenced too much by having cars that crumple OR cars that ride smoothly and quietly such that you don't get an impression of speed or danger.   
There just seems to be fast and stupid drivers and those who are more careful.   The biggest risk takers are motorcyclists who have little protection and do feel the speed (that is the thrill I suppose).

But many say they buy a 4 x 4 because they feel safer but they can roll over easily with their high centre of gravity.

I think people take risks thinking it will never happen to them like criminals commit crime irrespective what the penalties there are.  They think they won't get caught.

I remember working with a bloke who would drive very fast down narrow windy country roads with high hedges.  He said it was safe to do because there wasn't likely to be anything coming the other way!!! 

Worst driver I know is a 70+ lady who drives through her housing estate very fast.. Just doesn't think she is doing anything wrong.  Another lady I know (48) is a scary driver as well..far too fast and always moaning about speed bumps. 

Actually the worst driver I have known was a man, late 50s.. calm, easy going...but behind a wheel..total nutter.
« Last Edit: 26/09/2008 17:06:36 by Pumblechook »
 

lyner

  • Guest
Are our cars too safe?
« Reply #9 on: 27/09/2008 23:16:09 »
As a perceived risk, a quiet, comfy car is the exact opposite of a whirring, jangling circular saw.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Are our cars too safe?
« Reply #9 on: 27/09/2008 23:16:09 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums