This is why I drive fast


Upshot: The New Beetle from Volkswagen got a “poor” rating on side-impact tests. This means the accident they simulate (31 mph side impact from a pickup truck) would result in serious, life-threatening injury.

My Take: I kind of figured as much when I bought the car. It’s a compact, after all. There’s little enough crumple-zone in a front or rear collision. From the side, though? If my car door were any closer to me, I’d be sitting outside the car. My solution, therefore, is to spend as little time as possible in front of cross-traffic — especially when running stop signs, red-lights, or cutting across the freeway. In these situations I just go as fast as possible, in the hope that if there’s a collision, it’s ME hitting THEM.


14 thoughts on “This is why I drive fast”

  1. I wonder how a Smart would do in one of these tests…

    They are pretty common here in Germany, but I have no idea how common they are in the USA.

    1. I doubt one of those would do well in any of the crash tests. There’s just not much between the passenger and the impact in any dimension. I also was told, when I first saw them in the Netherlands a few years ago, that they have a real tendency to wind up sitting on their back door, nose up in the air, in an accident due to the engine’s placement just over the rear wheels.

      I understand why they’re so popular in Europe and Japan, due to the insane levels of fuel taxation there driving up fuel prices, but I also understand why DaimlerChrysler won’t import them (or the almost-as-tiny A-series) officially into the US. I doubt they’ll be anything more than a curiosity here.

      1. As I understand it, they’re perennially sold out here in Vancouver and Victoria in BC. We get no snow, and the cities are ideal for a microcar like that.

      2. It’s not just fuel prices – it is easy to navigate with them on European city streets (many American-style SUVs are simply too big for many of these streets), and it is also very easy to find parking space with them.

        Few people will be using them on the Autobahn, but they are perfect for daily commutes within a city.

        1. Only the biggest American-style SUVs (the Suburbans and Expeditions) are too big for European streets. The midsize varieties – up to and including the Jeep Grand Cherokee (sold in Europe with a turbodiesel I wish was available in the US) – do fine. I saw lots of Lexus RX300s while I was in Spain earlier this year. Yes, they’re among the largest cars you see there, but they do exist.

          I’d be terrified to be in a Smart Fortwo in traffic, even on surface streets, in an American city. They’re simply too small and too easily swatted.

          1. Most vehicles use ‘crumple zones’ where the smart is more like a nutshell to resist any crumpling. Bigger cars can be more safe but they’re by no means unsafe from what I’ve read. They’re neat cars, but not even available in the US yet, at least till 2006 sometime.

          2. Most vehicles use crumple zones to absorb the energy of a collision and dissipate it before it gets to the occupants. The Smart Fortwo resists crumpling, but that doesn’t do anything to manage the energy – and the only other option is to transmit it to the occupants.

          3. I saw one of the new BMW made “Mini”s this morning on the M1 southbound. It seemed to have crumpled zones fore and aft but the passenger compartment was intact.

  2. You too

    My Dad drove just like that before we forced him to give up driving, he has a degenerate eye disorder, he sees a black circle in the middle of his vision, the circle will continue to grow and he will become blind.
    He gave my daughter a lift home once, she said it was worse than the worst white knuckle ride.

    1. Re: You too

      A bit off topic…..I’ve been driven by somebody with that kind of vision (before I knew he had that problem…I took the ‘bus back!)
      ‘pologies, but has your father checked out video magnifiers ( is one site)? I know folks with peripheral vision who have maintained access to printed/handwritten material for longer that way….
      Sorry to intrude.

  3. The ratings in question were for an independent safety auditor that provides data to insurance companies, etc, which helps those insurance companies figure out the insurance rates*. This is not related to federal safety requirements.

    Of course, it’s always good to have additional data points. The test pretty conclusively proved that any compact (16 different models tested) is a bad place to be when being tee-boned by an SUV or 18-wheeler. But we knew, that, didn’t we? If safety is the main driver here, either one doesn’t buy a compact, or one buys one of the two that got “acceptable” ratings with side impact airbags.

    * Because the “gouge them ’till they bleed” business model was coming under scrutiny, one presumes.

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