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Tesla earns its first-ever safety award from IIHS for Model 3 (iihs.org)
151 points by crazy_eye 26 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 127 comments

This is the part that gets me:

    The Institute’s results also demonstrate the exceptional strength of Model 3’s all-glass roof, which is supported by a very strong metal body structure and helps protect occupants in roll-over crashes. During testing, the car’s roof was able to successfully resist more than 20,000 pounds of force – that’s more than if we placed five Model 3s on top of the car’s roof at once. And, the roof earned a higher strength-to-weight ratio score than any other fully electric vehicle that IIHS has ever tested.
It takes the weight of ~5 Model 3s ontop of a single one for the glass roof to shatter. That's good engineering.

Please do not use code formatting for quotes. It creates a terribly long unbroken side-scrollable box.

> The Institute’s results also demonstrate the exceptional strength of Model 3’s all-glass roof, which is supported by a very strong metal body structure and helps protect occupants in roll-over crashes. During testing, the car’s roof was able to successfully resist more than 20,000 pounds of force – that’s more than if we placed five Model 3s on top of the car’s roof at once. And, the roof earned a higher strength-to-weight ratio score than any other fully electric vehicle that IIHS has ever tested.

upvoting you for this. I thought it would break it into a block, and was wrong.

SilasX 26 days ago [flagged]

Wow, and seeing how the post appeared after submitting didn't convince you otherwise?

What’s with the attitude? He said he was wrong and the child comment fixed the issue. No need to castigate him.

Just surprised how people are able to miss this.

SEJeff in particular has been a member since 2012 and has 7500 karma, and somehow never saw a post that looked unreadable because of blockquote, including his own.

I hope your mood improves soon. No one should have to be as bitter as you are right now.

I don't mean this in jest, I really do hope that you find some peace.

Well when I looked at it a bit later, I was unable to edit the original comment. Kind of makes the point moot don't you think?


Of all of the hills to die on, you picked a pretty lousy one. Excuse me for casually browsing HN between doing actual real work. I guess not all of us can do HN fulltime.

Internet comments are usually fire-and-forget.

Especially on HN, which does a poor job of letting you know that someone has replied to your comment.

FWIW, someone made a tool that emails you if your comment gets a reply.


That’s neat, thanks! I usually just refresh once an hour or so.

Can you PLEASE go fuck yourself?

Ouch, please don't post like this to HN. We ban accounts that do it, because we're trying for something different here: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html. Could you please read those guidelines and use HN as intended? We'd be grateful.

This site is absolutely littered with that formatting. It needs to be changed to [yesiampostingcode][/yesiampostingcode] or something like that.

It's not like browsing the internet on a phone is a new concept any more. Little ridiculous how nothing has been done about its frequent use.

Wondering will I ever see the day this gets fixed. Shouldn’t take more than an hour?

This is hilarious to me, how this site is so badly laid out and has so many rendering bugs.

It's not a bug, it's a feature.

Prepending 4 spaces is intended to be used for posting source code, where automatic line wrapping is undesirable.

I mean you could just render it differently on mobile, or at least not with such a tiny bounding box. Its not impossible.

Note: on HN, just two spaces marks off code.

Note: this quote is from Tesla, not the IIHS.

It's marketing speak and isn't supported by anything in the IIHS's actual public announcement on their most recent vehicle safety ratings. Tesla has received flak in the past for misstating the results of IIHS and NHTSA testing.

Some people seem more accepting of misinformation than others.

The whole Mars thing + no 30k electric car after all these years have me immune.

Tesla and musk are simply not trustworthy.

Context is important. Pretty much the entire aerospace industry is terrible at time estimates. SpaceX has accomplished some incredible things, so bashing them for "the whole Mars thing" when they are still hard at work on it seems premature and pithy.

And as far as I'm aware they never promised a 30k car? They promised a 35k car, which you can buy today (you just have to email them or go in person and ask for it, it's not available online)

You appear to be quite accepting of misinformation. Nobody promised a $30k electric car. It was $35k and they delivered it.


From this year. There will be no 35k Tesla.

Anyone who got one was merely lucky.

So we agree that they delivered it.

He's always late with his estimates (aren't we all), but he sure is determined to deliver eventually.

I'm not always a huge Musk fan, but I don't understand this kind of criticism at all. Going to mars is something the human race hasn't done before, it's no surprise it is taking longer than expected.

> It takes the weight of ~5 Model 3s ontop of a single one for the glass roof to shatter. That's good engineering.

But that's not what it says at all. No where does it say the glass won't shatter.

The Model 3 roof has two roll bars, one links the A pillars and the other links the B pillars. That's what's strong.

The roof strength test is performed "by pushing an angled metal plate down on one side of the roof" (https://www.iihs.org/ratings/about-our-tests#roof-strength-t...). So it is the metal body structure that is tested here, not the glass in the center of the roof.

In a rollover the glass might encounter a sharp point (ala “ninja rocks”) which exerts impact on a very small area causing failure, no? Or is their glass capable of absorbing these impacts?

The glass will almost certainly break in a rollover crash. But it's laminated safety glass, so it won't be dangerous. More importantly, the metal frame of the roof acts as a roll cage, and that's what IIHS tests the strength of. They're not really testing the glass.

See pictures of a rolled over Model 3 here: https://electrek.co/2018/07/15/tesla-model-3-rollover-crash/ The glass is broken but the rigid metal frame clearly protected the occupants from harm.

Thanks that’s good information. I still have a concern in that it appears this is a controlled pressure (it’s not a sudden violent impact), if it is a sudden violent impact then it’s not expressed that way to me.

Metal gives and then fails. Glass gives minimally, and depending on tempering, can fail very, very quickly.

But it is safety glass, and the roof is still re-enforced with metal.

I also suspect this isn't a real world value because if you find yourself in an upside down car, chances are it's because you were in an accident. This means the vehicle likely acquired some damage and therefore would likely have a compromised support structure for the glass.

Rollover crashes are generally pretty safe assuming the roof doesn't collapse and squish you to death, and you are wearing your seatbelt. The energy dissipates without you suddenly coming to a stop like if you hit a tree. Most of the damage will be from broken windows/debris causing cuts/scratches.

If you are not wearing a seatbelt, you run the risk of being ejected from the vehicle, and the higher risk of being 'partially ejected' from the vehicle, which is often worse.

I personally observed only 1 vehicle where the roof caved in on rollover (I believe it was a mid 2000s mustang). If the driver had been a few inches taller, I imagine he would've been hurt pretty badly.

The only other time I saw a roof collapse in wasn't from a roll over, but striking a tree roof first at a high rate of speed.

The only rollover crash I ever observed that the driver couldn't walk away from was a rather fortunate partial ejection. The vehicle only rolled onto its side, pinning the drivers arm between the road and the door as it slid for a few dozen yards.

The durability of the laminated safety glass should not be understated. A fire department's extraction team's approach is likely to be "cut through the glass with a circular saw".

Granted, all of this is anecdotal, with a very small sample size. Either way, wear your seat belt.

Strength and toughness are different properties in materials science. A ceramic mug is strong enough to support great amounts of weight, but it's not very tough. I would think toughness (and elastic modulus) plays more of a safety role in a roof than strength, because strength comes from the pillars.

Where is that quote from?

When I open TFA, I can't even find the word "glass" when I search for it.


Must have been moved from the Tesla press release to the institutes website press release.

Makes sense, the language in that quote sounds much more like a company press release. I would have been surprised if the IIHS actually said things like "the exceptional strength". On the contrary, IIHS didn't even find this fact important enough to mention in their press release at all.

The glass may be strong but it is probably not "tough" in a material science sense. Metals and plastics can absorb more force and impact without fracturing which is probably what you want in a crash: http://www-materials.eng.cam.ac.uk/mpsite/properties/non-IE/...

It can also turn orange in certain conditions: https://www.google.com/search?q=tesla+orange+roof

It is only the front part, and it is due to being polarized glass, which only manifests when the car is wet. I think it is kind of pretty actually (note that I own a Model 3).

The Model 3 has gone through several iterations of glass, and some builds actually have nearly the entire roof (including the back glass) turn orange in the rain, but I believe new builds actually have no coloration at all since they changed the glass again.

It isn't polarized, it's just an IR filter.

and how many model 3s does it take to shatter a metal roof? im not discounting that the claim is impressive, but from a purely safety point of view, wouldnt you expect even more significant forces on this thing in a crash?

Lots of vehicles have less crush strength than the Model 3, and most of them don't have glass roofs. If you recall... the NTHSA testing of the Model S literally broke their machine. The NTHSA said the Model S had the best rollover test (top impact from their machine trying to crush it) of anything they've ever tested.


To really answer your question, I've arbitrarily picked a few common vehicles with metal roofs.

The IIHS says the Civic roof withstands 13,195lbs of force: https://www.iihs.org/ratings/vehicle/honda/civic-2-door-coup...

A Subaru Outback: 18,533lbs of roof strength: https://www.iihs.org/ratings/vehicle/subaru/outback-4-door-w...

A BMW 3 series has roughly the same roof strength as a Model 3: https://www.iihs.org/ratings/vehicle/bmw/3-series-4-door-sed...

An Audi A5 is only 16,327lbs of roof strength: https://www.iihs.org/ratings/vehicle/audi/a5-coupe-2-door-co...

You get the idea!

One moment you missed. Electric cars are very heavy, and their centres of mass tend to be right below the cabin.

Having very strong pillars is pretty much a prerequisite for surviving a rollover in an EV.

Most people tell me the BMW 330i is very comparable to a Model 3, and its curb weight is 3,582 to 3,764 lbs (per BMW). The Model 3's curb weight is 3,627 to 4,072 lbs (per Tesla).

That isn't as big of a difference as I'd have expected.

Engines and transmissions are also heavy.

They're not all that heavy any more.

The Tesla Model 3 is 3552-4072 lbs, while the new Jeep Wrangler (JL) is 3955-4455 lbs.

I think it's more of a "relative" to certain cars.

I could compare it to a miata that is ~2300lbs. But that's not really relevant then, is it? A Jeep Wrangler is basically a truck - so I don't think that's a good comparison.

Compared to other "compact executive cars" (as its class states) it's close to the competition.

Well, I mention it only because I get the comment a lot and my last car was a (two door) Wrangler. You could compare it to trucks, but it's just not perceived as a particularly heavy vehicle even relative to normal cars.

The vibe I've got from talking to people is that they think the Model 3 (or Teslas in general) are significantly heavy relative to normal consumer vehicles. It's pretty surprising to them that even a 2 door Jeep Wrangler is actually heavier.

I think most people would be surprised just at how heavy a Jeep Wrangler is to begin with. Without even comparison, most of the 2-doors don't look like they'd be that heavy.

Same with my 1-series. It's obscenely heavy for how small it is.

Yep. Exactly my point, although honestly it didn't occur to me that the weight of the Wrangler might be an outlier.

Suzuki Mehran dry mass is around 550kg, and it's made of steel, not aluminium.

A more spacious Alto that uses some aluminium and magnesium is around 650kg.

Talking about "not-so-heavy" cars...

> Suzuki Mehran dry mass is around 550kg

That's a Pakistan-only car with no safety features [0]. (From the Wikipedia description, "a car with everything manually operated, and with no safety features. The car lacks airbags, ABS, rear window defogger, side air conditioner vents, seat belt reminder and even rear seat belts.") So yes, it's light. You'll also immediately die in a collision, but you get what you pay for I suppose. (The Alto is sold more broadly, but it's still obsolete)

Not exactly comparing like to like.

0: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzuki_Mehran

The Model 3 is ~25% heavier than Ford Fusion.

That's not even that impressive and pretty standard for the industry. The relatively pedestrian Mazda3 resists 18,239lbs, which is 6x it's weight.

Just about every family sedan on the market does >5x body weight.

Is the Mazda3 roof made out of glass?

It doesn't matter because the glass isn't load bearing. Sunroofs are even less rigid and safe than panoramic glass roofs and cars have been passing safety tests with those for decades.

What's being measured is the strength of the bars that make up the roof, not the glass.

So my phone may not yet have 5G, but my car can definitely pull 5G on its roof.

Sure how many Gs one typically pulls during a car crash. 5 doesn't strike me as a lot, but of course this is specifically about force applied to the roof. I guess you have to not just roll but actually fall on top of it somehow. At any rate, some actual data would be great instead of being amazed at this marketing statement.

Weight, a force in lbs, is not the same as g-force (m/s^2), which is an acceleration. You can't directly compare the two without knowing the time over which the acceleration occurs (and even then you only get an average force over time).

The comment you’re replying to correctly used F=ma to impute the amount of sustained acceleration the roof could support.

I think the quote mischaracterizes static and dynamic load.

Yes, the roof can hold 5 teslas stack one on top of the other, but this doesn't tell you much.

More practical knowledge would be at what speed the car will fall on the roof before the roof collapses? 50km/h 70km/h 100km/h?

That’s pretty much as strong as other cars in the class.

Static load is a nice number, but that's not what car safety test should be about - car crash is a rather violent dynamic event. I guess most common situation is rolling of the car, with possible stop at some wall with roof absorbing most of the impact.

I am not sure tests of such an event would be still so favorable.

Or to put it differently - that's an impressive achievement of a situation that will never happen to a Tesla driver. What about performance in crash situation that might actually happen?

Ask literally anyone who's been in a horrific wreck in a tesla and walked away. They're incredibly safe vehicles.

There have been some pretty insane examples of this, such as this one: https://www.autoblog.com/2016/05/06/tesla-model-s-crash-germ...

Literally the definition of survivor bias.

I guess what I was attempting (and admittedly failing!) to say was that Tesla vehicles hold up very well in very bad wrecks. The cars have tons of driver assist / active safety features, but they also have a huge crumple zone due to not having an engine, and an exceptionally low center of gravity due to the battery. There are many cases where people walk away from bad wrecks in a tesla where they'd have been intensive care or worse in most vehicles.

No doubt! I crashed violently, twice, at highway speeds, in tiny 80s economy cars. Im fine. They must be safe! /s

You joke but I've literally heard people make this argument about seat belts.

Go to the Subaru forums and you get similar examples. Modern cars are generally very safe.

I get why Tesla gets the flak from analysts, it being a public company; But I rarely see an analyst speak about Tesla's impressive record in building safe cars.

Especially when there are car manufacturers who try to hide flaws which can lead to catastrophic malfunction or had been caught with cheat devices for emissions test.

Also one more thing which is less talked about is Tesla's autopilot being useful for people with disabilities although Tesla hasn't added any specific features for people with disabilities AFAIK.

But I rarely see an analyst speak about Tesla's impressive record in building safe cars.

Tesla's car safety features are not a major selling point compared to its EV features, and moreover are generally features common to EVs (i.e., additional crumple zones, floor rigidity).

Tesla's autopilot still struggles to identify white trucks against a blue sky, and highway dividers, and can't seem to tell when the driver is asleep and has his hands off the wheel. So crash safety features take a back page to known dangers of Tesla cars that make Teslas more likely to crash than other vehicles.

Especially when there are car manufacturers who try to hide flaws which can lead to catastrophic malfunction or had been caught with cheat devices for emissions test.

Literally every newspaper and news organization in the US and Europe covered the VW emissions scandal. People went to prison over it. Billions of dollars in fines were paid. The stock price was downgraded by analysts for months. Ford and GM's stock prices are also down significantly despite near-record profits due to missteps in the sedan market. Analysts aren't biased against Tesla, they're biased against any company mis-executing.

Don't forget Toyota and the saga of the mysterious acceleration.

IIRC, Toyota was eventually successfully sued because they did not follow industry best practices in developing the sw for the ECU. Any idea if Tesla's software is following, say, ISO26262?

Yes, that was a big issue too. Covered by every newspaper and media organization in the West, multiple investigations by safety agencies and private parties, and their stock was downgraded by analysts during this "saga."

Any idea if Tesla's software is following, say, ISO26262?

With respect to the console? Unknown. With respect to Autopilot? It's clear that they're not, since they're are too many issues and regressions that would have been caught if they were following those standards.

> make Teslas more likely to crash than other vehicles

Citation needed. Which other vehicles? Tesla's overall safety record is quite good. Every car has things it does well and things it does badly, and every other manufacturer gets judged on the safety record on balance.

I mean, do you regularly post on HN about, I dunno, Toyota's safety record given the high center of gravity of its SUV offerings that make them "more likely to roll over than other vehicles" and claim that "crash safety features take a back page" to that problem?

Well, teslas ARE more likely to crash than commercial airliners, because "everyone knows you are more likely to die driving to the airport than in the plane"

Other than that, tesla does publish some data:


That said, people commonly constrain the Tesla comparisons to newer cars or in some other way.

See wikipedia's "aviation_safety" page. Avaiation is clearly safer per mile (a factor of 60 or so), but not that much safer per hour (factor of 4 per so), but is 3 times more dangerous per journey.

So driving to the airport might well be safer than flying across the country according to the journey metric. Even using the hour metric I often am less than an hour from the airport and take more than a 4 hour flight.

Last I checked, Toyota's cars don't roll themselves over. The driver of the SUV needs to be going too fast and take a turn too sharply to cause a rollover. Indeed, Tesla Model Ys, and all SUVs, are also prone to rollover due to having a higher center of mass than a sedan. This is why anti-rollover features are now standard in SUVs: to minimize the likelihood of a rollover occuring, and then to mitigate the harm to the occupants of the vehicle in the event of a rollover.

In contrast, Teslas literally drive themselves into trucks, stopped cars, highway dividers, etc., resulting in the deaths of 7 drivers so far in a base of only a few hundred thousand vehicles, versus a rest-of-the-industry statistic of 0 across hundreds of millions of cars.

And finally, Toyota doesn't go around bragging about how its vehicles are the safest cars ever, or misstating (or even outright lying) about IIHS or NHTSA safety tests.

If you mean 0 deaths per 0 miles vs 7 deaths per 1+ Billion miles that’s hardly impressive.

PS: Oddly enough of you replaced those billion miles with average American miles in average cars you would expect 12.5 deaths. Tesla’s autopilot might be less safe than other new cars in their segment especially if driven defensively etc, but that’s harder to quantify.

> known dangers of Tesla cars that make Teslas more likely to crash than other vehicles

Do you have any stats on this?

Whenever you see someone showing a brief and incomplete window of data, you have to take a step back and ask yourself "why?". There is seldomly a case for you to just disregard newer data when trying to predict into the future.

That being said, this is simply a Tesla short that used incomplete (but true in the past) statistics to try and make Tesla look bad. They time boxed their statistics to 2016 and despite the post being made in mid 2018.

Tesla for the years 2019, 2018, 2017 has had 7 deaths per year each (6 so far in 2019). Despite the number of Tesla's on the road showing hockey stick like growth, the number of fatalities has remained nearly constant.

If the blog post were to be true, the number of fatalities due to accidents in 2017 should have been 14, then 24 in 2018, and closer to 50 in 2019.

Just to approach this from another angle: Teslas currently make up about 0.1% (very very roughly) of all cars in the US. From that, you’d expect around 40 fatalities per year, and increasing fast.

I doubt the extrapolation is that simple. Most fatal wrecks happen to people who are unlikely to be owning an expensive EV.

Look at stats for other luxury vehicles. They have much lower crashes per millions of miles driven.

> Also one more thing which is less talked about is Tesla's autopilot being useful for people with disabilities although Tesla hasn't added any specific features for people with disabilities AFAIK.

Autopilot isn't solution for disabilities. If you aren't able to drive car without AP, you cannot drive one with AP - you have to be able to intervene and take over at any point of AP operation.

Don't get people killed by spreading misinformation.

I said autopilot is useful for people with disabilities and also added Tesla hasn't added any feature for disability assist. I didn't imply disabled should go buy a Tesla.

Diability can be of various nature, affecting accessbility in various manner. Iam myself disabled, Tesla is not available in my country; I hope to drive one when available and so I keep track of experience of disabled people with Tesla.

That said you can find numerous videos of disabled people testifying Tesla autopilot is easier to use[1].


AP is a convenience package - it makes car easier to use, in best case scenario. In worst case - it's harder - you need to take over and correct behavior to avoid crash.

I feel you, but don't put your life in hands of a convenience package.

Some disabilities are not black and white--you may be able to drive a car only 20 minutes at a time due to a disability, but with say adaptive cruise control/lane keeping you could drive it 60 minutes at a time.

That's pronbably because Tesla has an impressive record of overstating how safe their cars are. Notice how this is the first Tesla car to qualify for Top Safety Pick+? That's not because the Model S wasn't tested, it's because it didn't qualify - and Tesla went ahead and claimed it was the safest car on the market based on a dubious interpretation of the much more limited NHTSA tests which was rejected by the NHTSA themselves.

Related IIHS ratings where it failed to achieve the award criteria: https://www.iihs.org/ratings/vehicle/tesla/model-s-4-door-ha... https://www.iihs.org/ratings/vehicle/Tesla/model-s-4-door-ha...

Other cars like Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius scored better.

I agree with your thought process but you also have to realize that overtime issues can arise. It would be difficult to say 'look at how safe they are' when in months or years later issues can come at their doorstep. I think analysts don't want that on their record.

> car manufacturers who try to hide ... or had been caught

Tesla went for years trying to make the _sticker price_ include "four years of gas savings: $3,500", bringing the 3 to $31.5K.

Of course you couldn't buy one for that price. That was fairly deceptive. Then Tesla fans tried to spin it as "trying to bring honesty to the market by looking at TCO"... except while they were happy to mention savings from gas, they didn't mention the cost of installing 240V, and their electricity costs were somewhat... absent.

This always comes up, so I am curious if one fixes for "where the Tesla is driven" when doing safety analysis? Considering how difficult it is to get a Tesla (and for older models, how expensive), surely if one fixes for location, such as suburbs and well designed metropolitan areas as well as the type of people that drive Teslas, then perhaps other vehicles will do just as well?

I am by no means saying Tesla is less safe, in fact I do believe these claims, I am just not sure if they are truly thorough.

The second and third paragraphs of the above comment are bound to age poorly.

On a slight tangent (although it is mentioned in the linked article) I'm glad the IIHS started paying more attention to headlights.

For a while there certain vehicle manufacturers were putting design aesthetic above functional headlights, and even some that didn't had mediocre headlights.

Since IIHS started dinging vehicles for having bad headlights things seem to have genuinely improved in a noticeable way. As a driver that has to drive on the same road as these vehicles (glare/etc) I am happy.

> "Vehicles with alternative powertrains have come into their own," IIHS Chief Research Officer David Zuby says. "There's no need to trade away safety for a lower carbon footprint when choosing a vehicle."

I would guess this is not the real reason. EV's have a much bigger crumple zone and can therefor absorb more energy. Since "nobody" wants to hear that EV's are saver than combustion engine cars, lets put them into another category...

In the case of Tesla (and presumably other “skateboard” platforms) they also have an extremely stiff floor, which dramatically improves side impact performance.

The panel gaps allow for greater energy absorption. :) seriously though, I am glad to see Tesla getting a few wins here as of late. Not a perfect company or CEO but they are doing a generally great job in my humble opinion.

Contrast the good results of the overlap tests with the report (posted on HN awhile back) from the Tesla that rear-ended the corner of a firetruck at ~35mph that had substantial firewall deformation.

It's worth remembering that modern cars are very highly optimized for the tests they have to pass. I'm not saying the M3 or any specific car is good or bad, just take the results with a grain of salt because these metrics are very much targets.

I don't think the deformation of that crash is what was relevant; rather, it appears that autopilot failed to act correctly in that situation.

In terms of the "firewall deformation", from what I understand this is exactly what is supposed to happen in a collision: there is a "crumple zone" [0] in modern cars as a safety feature to absorb impact.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crumple_zone

The firewall is the edge of the passenger cabin. There should be no crumpling going on because the perimeter of it is the structural component that ties together the A-pillars and rocker panel structure. If you crumple the firwall you are pushing the dash structure back at the occupants and removing support from the A-pillars allowing them to more easily deform. Getting it to deform 6" or so (I recall that was the number they stated, I'd need to check to be sure though) in a crash that was well within the range of speeds vehicles are crash tested at is noteworthy.

Edit: Is the firewall is structurally irrelevant in modern cars or is reality not convenient today? The inability for people to disagree without trying to silence each other is why people complain that HN is turning into Reddit.

Firefighter / Paramedic here: when we get firewall impingement, we get dash impingement, which can easily result in us having to "roll" the dash up/off an occupant to unpin them with our rescue tools. Modern cars shouldn't impinge the firewall unless many things have gone wrong.

I put to doubt the utility of crash safety ratings.

The survival rates for collisions on highway speeds are in single digits no matter what you do. It's just laws of physics.

Modern luxury sedans have 1m+ crumple zones, and those only make for few percents extra chance at speeds above 60km/h.

Extending crumple zones beyond that is self defeating, as it will only lead to further increase of average car mass, leading to even more violent collisions

Preventing crashes from happening in the first place is far more economically efficient. EU is just few years away from making some forms of ADAS mandatory, and China is realistically talking about centrally controlled "autopilot" being introduced.

> The survival rates for collisions on highway speeds are in single digits no matter what you do.

As in what, a head-on collision between vehicles traveling at 70mph? Yeah, that's not likely to end well. It's also a highly uncommon event and not what the safety ratings are testing for, nor is it what anyone is realistically expecting their car to protect them from.

The small overlap front test is reasonable. It's a 40mph along the outer edges of the vehicle, like if a passing truck on a local road drifts over the center line.

For that, sure, but for that even 20 year old cars had good enough structural integrity. By late nineties Japanese cars were already full in into the science of crash safety with concepts like safety volumes, and rigidity belts being fully adopted in mass market cars.

Most advances past that level just got cars getting unreasonably heavy, and more lethal, as a result, in car to car collisions, which in turn results in even higher expectations being placed.

That's why "safety marketing" tells only one side of the story.

Sorry, I don't think you're right here.

Modern cars feature considerably more features (both in the bodyshell and in terms of active safety systems) which protect both passengers and pedestrians.

It's simply untrue to say we reached peak safety 20 years ago and everything else has just been pointless window dressing.

I buy and sell cars as a side gig, and newer cars (last 10 years or so) are far better equipped to deal with accidents - they have higher waistlines, better active safety features (airbags, stability systems, seatbelt pre-tensioners, lane assist, better-performing ABS systems), and the bodyshells have features such as side impact bars and larger crumple zones.

I recently bought a Fiat Seicento as a stop-gap. It was really old-school - light, small, nippy (even with a 55 bhp engine) and great fun to drive. But it was tragically weak and definitely not safe if you had an accident - as backed up by Euro NCAP's assessment of the seicento. Cars like that and the original mini are not something I'd like to have an accident in. (For reference, I did 10 years of gravel rally driving, so I've had a few knocks).

Great points. I'm not sure how baybal2 arrived at their conclusion. To add to your list, newer cars have NHTSA/IIHS-advised brake assist and obstacle detection, more and better airbags, seat belt load limiters, better use of high-grade structural steel and adhesives in critical joints, and wider tires for better traction.

Most of the safety improvements are only very mildly correlated with the weight increases. Of course the safety features add weight, but comparable cars and compact SUVs have grown by at most 10-20% in weight over the past two decades. Most of the weight increase on the road is from pickup trucks (which don't satisfy many of these safety criteria and are bought mostly by people who don't care as much about safety) or people insisting on buying bigger vehicles.

I stand my position here.

While accident rates fell all across the world significantly with advance of road safety science, and active safety, no question there, but the lethality of car to car collisions has been rising, with most of rise happening in developed countries

The increase in average car weight is the biggest contributor to lethality of vehicle to vehicle collision.

https://www.nber.org/digest/nov11/w17170.html and https://academic.oup.com/epirev/article/34/1/57/493339

> being hit by a vehicle that is 1,000 pounds heavier results in a 47% increase in the baseline fatality probability.

In three decades, the weight of a family car went from under 1 tonne to close to 1.6, with big thanks to SUV overtaking sedan as a default "family car."

And increase in car resistance to mechanical deformation no longer plays a big role when G forces overtake blunt and compression trauma. And there is nothing one can do about them when crumple zones and the "deceleration track" are already maxed out.

The last few car fatalities I saw were all about that: 2 cars seemingly intact besides the front, but both flung violently 10m meters off the road, and people dead without much signs of external trauma. The energy absorption capacity of crumple zones did not save them.

Your position seems to have changed - you were initially saying that safety wasn't improving, and cars of 20 years ago were safe enough. Which is patently untrue.

Now you're saying that the issue is that car weights have increased.

That's a different argument - and the links that you cite aren't making the exact point that you are - the 1000lbs/47% figure may well be true, but that's a difference over 30 years, and both papers are actually talking about inequality between colliding vehicles.

The tendency to drive SUVs is an issue, for sure, and if you're in a little car then you don't want to have an accident with a large one where there is a physical incompatibility, but like all things it has become an arms race - I wouldn't want to be in a small car of yesteryear on the roads today because everything modern is bigger - so it's no wonder that people are driving them, as no-one wants to be in the small vehicle that will come off worst in an accident.

Your last few fatalities you witnessed are tragic, but anecdotal. I've seen many situations where people have walked away from accidents that would have killed them 20 years ago - indeed a couple of weeks ago I witnessed a car get T-boned by a good vehicle on an A-road in the UK, and everyone got out and walked away - that certainly wouldn't have happened 20 or more years ago. The statistics for fatalities in the UK (the only country I have checked) don't align with your statement that lethality is rising - it isn't in the UK.

20yr ago a 40mph partial overlap would have put whatever you were overlapping with in the foot-well.

Your claim isn't backed up by the data: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motor_vehicle_fatality_rate_in...

I drive a 2017 Toyota Auris and (still) own a 00' Corolla.

The difference in the level of safety between these two is patently obvious.

Crash safety ratings are based on sound scientific and statistical analysis of real-world crash data and have been proven to save lives.

The process is essentially this: the IIHS looks at the most common crash scenarios which involve fatalities. They replicate the the crashes in a lab to gather data on the forces exerted on occupants during the crash. Then a test scenario is formalized and future vehicles will be scored based on the forces exerted on occupants during the crash and whether such forces are survivable.

Auto manufactures are supplied information about the tests are are given an opportunity to design their vehicles to perform well in crash testing.

Note, that the IIHS is a independent scientific organization dedicated to reducing fatalities and injuries in motor vehicle accidents and is supported by car insurance companies. These companies wouldn't be funding the IIHS if it didn't have a measurable payoff (humans are expensive to fix).

I was unable to find a relationship between IIHS safety ratings and IIHS driver death rates for trucks and SUVs based on the most recent set of data released (though this was in 2014, so maybe they have improved their testing methodology since then). Interestingly, the only two vehicles to receive "TSP+" ratings in 2014 were actually among those that driver was most likely to die in - the GMC Terrain and the Chevy Equinox.

So far, the only variable that I've found that is predictive of driver mortality is curb weight, and the relationship is not linear. There is a mortality minimum between 4000 - 5000 lbs of curb weight.

Again, this is just for trucks and SUVs, and just those 37 models that offered both 2WD and 4WD versions. Maybe the ratings work better for sedans or for other types of vehicles.

Most collisions don’t happen at highway speeds and the crash tests are designed accordingly.

Yes, but collisions below 60km/h got quite survivable back in nineties.

Airbag, seatbelt with pretensioner, rigid cabin, and some crumple zone is all it takes to survive a crash below that speed.

For a healthy, non overweight person, below 40, survival rates already close to 85%-90%.

The reason I'm ringing an alarm here is that survival rates began to slide back since mid naughties exactly because of the trend for more heavier cars being marketed as "safer" resulting in more violent car to car collisions, and more cars going through road barriers.

I think both sides here are right. there have been considerable advances in safety technology in the last 20 years, especially in avoidance systems. these improvements have unfortunately been counteracted by larger and larger vehicle sizes, which make everyone less safe on the road.

interestingly the larger vehicles represent a tragedy of the commons, where individuals feel safer in heavier SUVs but overall society is much worse off. If all SUVs were traded for sedans crash survivability would improve about 35% on average.

> The reason I'm ringing an alarm here is that survival rates began to slide back since mid naughties exactly because of the trend for more heavier cars being marketed as "safer" resulting in more violent car to car collisions, and more cars going through road barriers.

Where are you getting this data from?

They encourage spending and R&D in effective safety (vs safety theater).

Nearby someone recently died in an accident at an intersection where the speeds don't exceed 30mph. It wasn't head on.

If we can stop these kinds of deaths, we've made incredible progress.

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