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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Small Cars, Big Death

Well, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has once again pooped on the parade.

Thanks, guys.

The New York Times has just reported that the IIHS has just released unfortunate news surrounding the safety of current model-year small cars.

Summary: yergonnadie.

Now, we all know that modern cars are equipped with antilock brakes and enough airbags to cushion everything from your neck to your jaun, but that doesn't seem to matter much when a modern microcar is paired against a midsize vehicle, like a Toyota Camry. The fact is, everybody pretty much understands that, if you're teetalooting around in a Smart ForTwo and you slam into a Hummer, you're basically going to crumple up like a boil-in-a-bag dinner thrown against the kitchen wall, but the recent crashtest videos showing Honda Fits and Toyota Yarii flying up in the air and cushmoigiing up like they're made of tin-foil weren't exactly predictable.

My wife and sister-in-law both are currently lusting after Honda Fits, and I have stood by them. I would now prefer, instead, to drive behind them. In a Chevy Impala.

Because the Editorial/Opinion section of the NYT is an apparently inadequate vehicle for handling reader opinions, it has added a comment page to its storylines. As usual, the commentatortots are at it again in full force. When I last checked, this particular news story rang in at 107 comments. Here's a small sampling from the numbnuts gallery. Please keep in mind that these are New York Times readers who are allegedly of superior intelligence, grammatical fortitude, and possess an unchallenged capacity for rational thought, expertise in logical argumentation, and eloquence of expression:

"THIS IS GROSSLY irresponsible. You have these small cars crashing into medium sized cars.
WHAT you need to test is small cars crashing into small cars - which is what would happeen if everyone tried to save the planet and drove small cars"

"Your adversising in favor of big, voracious cars will certainly not help fighting global warming and saving oil reserves !"

"how ’bout pitting a Harley Road King against the Smart? Surely a lot of these gas-hog owners are out there on the weekend posing as HOGs on their vintage bikes! And are they ALL knuckleheads?!"

"Oh my gosh! This is so surprising! I can’t believe that when something tiny hits something bigger the tiny object sustains more damage! My feeble hippie mind apparently cannot comprehend freshman high school level physics!"

That one, by the way, is my favorite. I'll spare you the tedium of reading any more of this palblum. Suffice it to say, the vast majority of these responses dealt with mention of high school physics, which I took for two days before dropping out in favor of the less mind-expanding world of geology and astronomy. Funny, in spite of my dearth of formal physics training, I still had a reasonably good idea that a freight train hitting a gerbil was not going to bode well for the gerbil.

It would be great if we lived in a society where there were no "big gas hogs" (by the way, they hit these microcars with Honda Accords & Toyota Camrys-- hardly "gas hogs" by any stretch of the imagination, but anyway, dickheads...) but, unfortunately, this country has a long, storied history of building things larger than necessary: take a gander at the skyline of any major American city, or the office of any CEO of repute or the guest bathroom in the average American McMansion if you think I'm full of shit. The plump, commodious living room on wheels was invented here, and I'm pretty sure the fucking motorhome was, too, so don't think, my little greenies, that you can just wave your non-CO2 emitting wands around and all the Ford Crown Vics will just disappear off the face of the earth. See-- we have a little thing in this society called "freedom" and if people want to buy six-seater cars, and they have the available funds, they can. Hell, they can buy them even if they don't have the available funds. That's the other thing we invented in this country: credit.


The onus, friends, is not on the mid-sized & large cars which have existed in this country since the dawn of time to simply go away and never be heard from again-- the onus is on the designers and manufacturers who are busily trying to make a quick buck by churning out small cars that are ill-equipped to face the challenges of co-existing in a society where there are cars of varying sizes. If a car put puts around in Bali or Tokyo with no problem, that's great, but if there's a problem when it comes to America, well, then maybe it doesn't belong here-- or maybe the design needs to be retooled. That's the reality of the situation.

And for all of you patchouli-loving dred-asses (by the way, where's my fucking G.P.S.?) who want to bitch and cry about all the big cars speeding around on the road today: why don't you just go walk in front of one?


  1. You're right; I didn't much like it.

    I still want my Fit, though, in Blaze Orange.

    What if I cover it in bubble wrap -- would that help?

  2. That's a good start, honey. But I would also like you to be bubble-wrapped as well, with a quaint, little, prominently-placed blowhole.


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