Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Kirk asks: I know and share your disdain for top down auto safety for any and all intrusions. That said, my family will be distance commuting from now forward in a city and county with rapidly expanding high speed (100 mph) collisions from drivers stoned on fentanyl in the morning (users need more frequent injections then get in their cars) teens who’ve stolen SUVs and can’t drive, MVA spikes with marijuana legalization, dramatic reductions in traffic enforcement with LEOs occupied by gang and other crime. Traffic lights and stop signs are rough guidelines only, traffic circles used for in your face automotive jousting. Friends around the country echo these changes in just the last couple years.
Snow, ice and dark haven’t gone away with global warming.
So, what vehicles would you suggest for highest probability survival from, say, $30,000 -$70,000? EMT friends suggest mass. Big trucks and Land Cruisers with max air bags?Others suggest post market bumper heavy duty bumper mods. Your thoughts are always enlightening; I’m certain all of your readers would value your insights. If you’ve covered this before, can you direct me to a link?
Truly and sincerely appreciate your help!
My reply: I think people today are far too focused on crashworthiness – how well a car stands up to impact forces – rather than avoiding the crash.
Situational awareness and competence are, in my view, the greatest guarantors of “safety” because they dramatically reduce the odds of being in a crash, including those caused by others. Constantly check your mirrors, especially when stopped at a traffic light.
I also take the heretical position that a small, agile car with excellent sight lines/visibility can be safer than a big, heavy car that’s less maneuverable, is a larger target and has poor outward visibility. The small car can get out of the way more easily – and it is usually more controllable if subjected to abrupt/violent inputs (such as sharp steering to avoid something that ran into the road).
If you are focused on survivability – how the vehicle takes a hit – then bigger is better. And body-on-frame is best of all. Thus a full-size truck or an SUV based on one – such as the Chevy Silverado/Tahoe or Ford F-150/expedition. Anything in that general line will fill the bill.
These vehicles are also higher up relative to most cars, which is another advantage in a collision because the lower car will impart much of its impact forces (if it hits you) to the lower/structural parts (the frame) rather than the body, which is much more fragile.
After that, a large/rear-drive sedan such as a Benz S or BMW 7 is also harder to hurt – or rather, offers more protection than a typical car.
I’d recommend Ford Crown Vic but it’s not made any longer, which is too bad. It had the body-on-frame/size thing and was just a really nice boat – comfortable for a whole family, with room for at least two bodies in the trunk!
Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
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