Which Is The Most Dangerous Car?
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Which Is The Most Dangerous Car?

This episode of Real Engineering is brought
to you by Brilliant, a problem solving website that teaches you to think like an engineer. A few months back I got a call from Tesla
inviting me to the Cybertruck reveal event, and if you listen closely you can hear my
reaction in the audience. “Hahahahahahha what on earth is that?! Elon
you absolute lunatic go home to yer mother.” Okay I lied. I’m not cool enough to get
invited to influencer events, but that was my initial reaction, though honestly, the
design has grown on me in the past month or so. However I do have one major concern with
the design. Its safety. It’s cold rolled stainless steel unibody design just doesn’t
sound like it has been designed with traditional safety ethos in mind. They showed that the panels don’t deform
and bend when hit with a sledge hammer, which is great if you have a habit of being attacked
by sledge hammer wielding car designers. But in the event of a crash, at least according
to my understanding at the time, was that vehicle panels are designed to crumple and
deform in a crash in order to absorb kinetic energy and slow the rate of deceleration to
a survivable level. Instead of jumping to conclusions, I decided
to jump into research mode and see how vehicle safety is actually evaluated and in the process
learn what the most dangerous car on the road is. What I discovered along the way was truly
eye opening. Trying to quantify what the most dangerous
car is, is actually a surprisingly difficult task. Total annual road deaths peaked in the early
70s as the number of miles being driven rose while vehicle safety was not yet a high priority.
Using this raw statistic is not terribly useful for analysing vehicle safety, as there are
far too many variables that can affect it. For example here we can see a massive dip
in deaths in world war 2 as fuel rationing began. So let’s plot this in a different way. Let’s
plot the deaths per billion miles travelled. This allows us to parse out any variations
in road use at the very least. Now we can see a real trend, over the past
100 years vehicle safety has continually improved. Total road deaths even managed to decline
in the 70s as the NHTSA began testing vehicle safety, which forced manufacturers to put
a bigger focus on survivability.. It’s clear road safety has risen dramatically,
thanks to technology and policy improvements, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room
for improvement. The question I had was “How do we define
an unsafe car”. It’s a surprisingly difficult thing to quantify. We are going to use US
data simply because it is the most easily accessible data, but there will be some cultural
variables we need to consider in this, especially with American’s fondness for trucks that
wouldn’t fit down most European streets. The most obvious starting point would be to
identify the vehicles with the most occupant fatalities using the Fatality and Injury Reporting
System Tool website. [2] Actually compiling data from this site is
a little labour intensive, but thankfully iseecars have created a report on this already.
[3] Here’s what they found. The top 14 most
dangerous cars by most occupant fatalities per billion miles were all subcompact, compact
and sports cars. This does not give us a whole lot of useful
data. 6 of the top 14 are sports cars, which are likely more dangerous because of the way
people drive them, another human variable we need to consider. While the most dangerous
car by this measure is the Mitsubishi Mirage. This tiny thing. Is that our answer? That
driving a small car in a country obsessed with trucks is dangerous. This thing is, despite its size, it fared
okay in America’s car safety rating systems. The national highway traffic safety administration’s
gave it a score of 4 stars out of 5. [4] While the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety
gave it an overall positive review [5] only getting a “poor” rating for this test.
The small overlap frontal impact test because the dummy’s head managed to slip off the
airbag and hit a pillar, while the footwell deformed too much potentially causing damage
to the lower body. For me, these results are not indicative of
a vehicle that has over 4 times the national average of occupant fatalities, and that certainly
isn’t because it can carry more occupants. It certainly isn’t going to dissuade your
average mother from using it to drive their kids to school. Let’s dive into the testing systems to see
if we can unearth the cause of this strange discrepancy. For now let’s focus on frontal crash tests,
as it is the scenario where most fatal crashes occur. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s
test measures the likelihood for driver or passenger injury when a vehicle crashes into
a fixed barrier at 35 miles per hour. The IIHS’s tests are slightly different, partially
because they were created to improve on NHTSA’s tests which were created in the 70s. They increased the test speed to 40 miles
per hour and made the impact area smaller. Both of these moves were intended to make
the test harder to pass, and that showed with the Mirage’s poor performance, but that
poor performance was mostly down to it’s airbags not overlapping enough. The 2017 Mirage
model corrected this problem by increasing the length of the side curtain airbag. That increased difficulty resulted in a critical
design issue being identified and fixed. Yet the NHTSA’s tests, America’s government
run testing program, has not changed since the 1970s. [6] Just to make it crystal clear why that is
an absolutely shocking revelation. This is an IIHS test showing a 1959 Chevy Bel Air
into a 2009 Chevy Malibu. The crash test dummy of the Bel Air is smashed as the steering
column gets forcefully pushed into the driver’s seat. Modern cars avoid this because the steering
column has been designed to torsionally stiff to allow steering, but is designed to collapse
when force is placed on it in the longitudinal direction. [7] The Bel Air had no airbags, a standard safety
feature today. It also has no headrests to prevent whiplash and no seat belts. These
are the kind of cars the 1970s test was made to test for. It is not fit for purpose for
today’s cars. Today nearly all vehicles today are rated
4 or 5 stars. Which makes the job of avoiding a vehicle with a terrible safety record, like
the Mitsubishi Mirage, a very difficult job. It’s time the tests were made more difficult
again. The frontal test for the NHTSA is set at 35 miles per hour, but the force of impact
is not solely determined by the speed of impact, it’s also determined by the weight of the
vehicle. This test only simulates the impact of two identical weight vehicles. That’s not good enough for a car that is
intended to drive in a country where the most popular car is the ford f-series, a truck
that is twice the weight of the mirage. This is just one obvious oversight in their
testing methods, but there are countless other issues with the state of safety testing today.
For example, crash test dummies are all based on the average adult man. Tests for the average adult woman do not exist,
which is odd considering women constitute 50% of the American population AND currently
have a 47% higher chance of serious injury in a frontal crash. [8] The only variable
there is the driver is a woman. Let that sink in. 47%. That is insane. Part of that statistic
is due to men having higher bone densities among other anatomical differences that make
men less likely to be injured. That is unavoidable, but if anything that’s a reason to design
with women in mind. Simple things like the IIHS’s test for whiplash
uses the maximum possible neck deflection as a result of headrest design, but it only
tests it using an average male dummy. That test doesn’t exist in NHSTA’s tests and
when IIHS introduced it it forced automakers to design better headrests to prevent whiplash,
but it forced them to design better headrests for men, not women. One of the most common
injuries resulting from a car crash even today, because headrests are not often adjusted for
the individual driving. Maybe if the testing used a larger variety
of crash test dummies it would force automotive companies to introduce automatically adjusting
headrests as part of a standard safety package, which have been a feature in some vehicles.
That’s just a simple example, but by testing both female and male dummies it will force
automakers to make their cars safer for all road users. These archaic tests do not just make it difficult
to identify the most dangerous car. They make it difficult to identify the safest, which
is the true goal. Automotive makers making real efforts to improve safety are simply
not being acknowledged in these tests. Tesla’s cars perform incredibly well in
frontal crashes because there is no engine block, allowing the entire front section to
act as a crumple zone. Tesla’s has autobrake and warning sound features that help prevent
crashes all together. It’s score: 5 stars. 1 star separates the NHTSA’s testing of a
vehicle that has 4 times the national average of occupant fatalities and a vehicle which
features massive leaps in occupant safety. That needs to change, soon. For now, if you
are looking to buy a safe vehicle I recommend you avoid NHTSA results altogether. They are
useless. There are international tests like the European NCAP, which test for more things
but still rated the Mirage with 4 stars. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety test
has been continually adding new tests. They test for auto braking and few other modern
safety features and they should be applauded for that. Their rating system is superior
to any I have seen, but can be a little confusing for the consumer. Their superior tests also don’t stop automakers
with poor safety design from using the NHTSA’s archaic testing and rating procedures in their
marketing. I only discovered these flaws in the rating system because it is literally
my job to research these things. That cannot be expected of the average consumer. Testing is an essential part of the learning
process. It helps us identify gaps in our knowledge. Which is why Brilliant focuses
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  • Pie 4life


  • Pour me a red

    Modern cars are most dangerous, they are too easy to drive, instill complacency in drivers and are full of stupid distractions. The safest cars would have not have drivers seat belt or airbags, and large metal spike on the steering wheel. I guarantee the driver will be aware and cautious.

  • Godfrey Poon

    They don't need to test for men AND women, because gender is a social construct and there is no difference in reality and testing female dummies is oppressive patriarchy.

  • Anthony Smith

    "Tests for the average adult woman do not exist"- Shocking stuff, but a fantastic & well researched video. Will share further.

  • Patrick Tho

    You are limiting the cars to participants of crashtests with Mercedes started in the 1960's alone?
    What about all the other cars with no airbags, no ABS and no securitybelts?

  • Ivan Lesca

    Further adding to what you said about cultural differences. For example, in USA the chevrolet sonic was rated I think 4.5 stars out of 5, the base model having like 6 airbags or something like that. Here in Argentina, since automotive companies are not enforced to such high safety regulations, the same car was rated 1 out of 5 stars. Having only 2 airbags and the car was made with thinner, more cheap steel. That led the car to basically be a ball after the crash. For me personally, when buying a car, here in my country I just stick with what I like/need, because if it is not a specifically model that was imported from USA, Europe or Mexico, it will probably be more dangerous than their counterparts in other parts of the world.

  • ZestyLemonSauce

    This video is garbage. I hope you ran out of time and had to push it out to keep the schedule because as you said it is your job to research things.

    The mirage is one of the cheapest cars out there. People who are young and barely scraping by may do unsafe things such as driving on bare tires or neglecting repairs. It is also more likely to be a city car, thus it barely does any miles. The BRZ on the list is one of the cheapest sports cars out there and its probably why its 2nd most dangerous out there.

    Is the cybertruck safe? Should the sides of the truck flex?

    Why should there be more stringent tests? Have road conditions changed since the 1970s? Do people drive differently? Is the Avg speed limit higher.

    Saying the Insurance institute has better tests? sure they're harsher but does it replicate real life? If I were you I would look at where the impacts are in real life and see how it matches the crash tests. You mentioned that the tests are poor and should be improved but you know that it isn't the main factor in the tests.

    Please redo this video

  • Jonathan Nutma

    In Still pretty intressted to see how the cybertruvk would perform against pedestrians, seen as panel deformation helps with that as well

  • Like Bot

    9:17 "Tesla also has autobrake and warning sound features that help prevent crashes altogether."

    There! You pointed out the problem: driver training. Just don't get into a crash.

  • Jack Rodarte

    They didnt need to destroy that bel air to convince me that cars are alot safer 70 years later. Come on man theres a small supply of those things.

  • Jack Rodarte

    Yeah the point about not testing on an average female is a bit mute because no goddam way that test dummy is what the average American man looks like. Average is fat. That dummy looked pretty healthy

  • John Ridley

    Similar story with motorcycle helmets. The DOT standard is horribly out-dated and there's no enforcement. Testing is left to the manufacturers. People looking for actually safe helmets have to look beyond the US to European and independent testing (ECE, Snell, Sharp etc)

  • Jason Young

    SO until the safety tests are updated, women shouldn't drive, and men should only drive 1/2ton pickup trucks; got it.
    On a more serious note, assuming similar model year vehicles, from a manufacturer, mass wins in an accident; in a head on collision between a 1/2 ton pickup (or large SUV) and a compact or sub-compact car, the occupants of the larger vehicle are going to experience fewer injuries as well as fewer forces from the impact.

  • Thomas Autengruber

    Not trying to deny that women may be less safe in a crash but sex is not the only variable here:
    Maybe there are more women that can‘t determine the appropriate speed for a given situation and tend to get into a collision at higher speeds than men.
    Maybe women try to swerve out of the way more often even though a crash can‘t be avoided anymore and are therefore more likely to be injured because they reduce their cars overlap.

    Maybe sub-compact cars attract less keen drivers in general that most likely don‘t drive as well because they have no interest in cars or driving other than for the sake of transportation.

  • Adam Gaboury

    I drive a Toyota Yaris and I can tell you that go-cart would get flattened by 90% of cars on the road… But it's good on gas so fuck it.

  • Darrell Leber

    Congratulations – You correctly identified the fact that government is completely useless at doing anything other than needlessly spending stolen money.

  • Tom Harriman

    I recently leaned that the NHSA testing still puts male crash test dummies in the drivers seat, and the female dummies in the passenger seat. I agree that it's time to not only update the test, but update there culture about how women now participate in our society. Thanks for the good (and timely) video.

  • Max Tonight

    Automotive safety is an arms war, because it comes down to mass. Heavier cars are safer, while also putting smaller cars at risk. As a result, nearly every new car is a heavy crossover. Commercials for new cars are disturbing to me because they show off the car's ability to save the driver from their own mistakes. Marketing to fools is fine and dandy, sure, after all a sucker is born every minute…
    These features create inattentive drivers that put others at risk.

  • Carlo Fioretti Rizzante

    Those engineers doing safety tests are deeply irresponsible. They destroyed a brand new Chevrolet Camaro, I saw it in the video, they could have given it to me instead. What a waste.

  • Ole Jensen

    Euro NCAP uses a small female dummy for full with rigid barrier. Could be interesting to compare the US and European testing methods and rating systems. https://www.euroncap.com/en/vehicle-safety/the-ratings-explained/adult-occupant-protection/full-width-rigid-barrier/

  • Grace O'Malley

    you should also talk about the other factor for a vehicle's safety: how deadly is it to others? Designing vehicles with only the safety of the occupants in mind is exactly how we ended up in a society filled with huge SUVs and trucks, as well as rising pedestrian fatalities.

  • Andrew King

    I´m sorry, I really like your vids but this was rather bad. It didn´t realy answer anything. If there was a conclusion than it got lost in your advertising. I understand you need advertising, all youtuber´s do, but this particular video looks like a bot produced clickbait. Again – I like your videos, but again – this one had no structure, the opening questions weren´t answered and a conclusion was missing. Especially since there probably isn´t a clear answer to the questions mentioned there should have been a conclusion. I feel robed of the 12 minutes I spent watching and I can´t imagine how you could have poured hours into research and editing and then send this out. Mabe if you could reshoot a proper ending to the vid it would actually get good.

  • SeanBZA

    One possible explanation might be experience of the driver. Small car, likely first new car, relatively young inexperienced driver, and driving slightly riskier than an older more careful risk adverse driver, plus driving at excessive speed for conditions, simply due to lack of experience in stopping distances, turning and braking efficiency in the driver.

  • Tyler Gurian

    anyone who would buy that mirage clearly doesn't give a damn about cars or driving, and is therefore, most likely, a trash driver

  • Ingenioes

    At least add the km/h value as subtitles while speaking about the mph … would make your videos a lot easier to watch for me. I had to pause multiple times to calculate …

  • storkstork

    maybe it will never happen. who would buy a car with one star in safety over one with 4 or 5 stars? i guess manufacturers will do everything in their power to not let safety tests make a big difference between models. perhaps i am wrong and there is another reason for ratings and statistics do not add up sometimes.

    but than there is even manipulation for co2 emission and other less important stuff than safety…

  • Shahaab Sherwani

    You raised so many questions but hardly answered any of them? Honestly a subpar video. I suggest you redo it with more effort placed on answering these questions and not just raising them

  • Mr. King

    The size & weight of a male is higher than most females, so designing a cars impact based on a male dummy test (more inertia, higher impact force) is realistic and costs less money. Not everything can be diverse.

  • Alex

    Probably the heavier the car the safer it is. This should be by far the most important consideration between cars with the same results in the car crash tests.

  • Tristan WH

    While this vidoe may seem like a thorough investigation, I feel like there are a ton of things that were either left out or never considered. You mentioned that women are 47% more likely to experience serious injury but then completely ignored any impact it would have on the data. A car that's driven more by women, the elderly, new drivers, or in more dangerous conditions can have significamtly more fatalities per mile while still being a safe car. The video also completely ignores pedestrian fatalities, as a truck may be safer for the driver but way more dangerous for everyone around them, and having just trucks on the road would be way more dangerous for everyone. Vehical safety testing definitely needs to be updated for the 21st century, but you also have to be careful when looking at the data before you draw any incorrect conclusions.

  • Piano Fry

    I honestly don't think designing for a genderless dummie hurts women. I think how anatomically they have weaker bones and less muscle than an average man is the problem.

  • Hey, Folks!

    I think the point of the video is that we can't know anymore. Which is why you don't get a solid answer and probably the reason he sounds so frustrated in the video.

  • Matt Collins

    Government is incompetent at everything it does because everything the government does is the result of politics. This is why government should be small and minimal so that it can't screw much of anything up.

  • Jonathan Willis

    Did anyone else feel like this video started on one topic then really went on a tangent about updating car safety standards?

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