I’m not talking about Steve Jobs.
I want you to look at this video first, or watch the entire clip if you have time. It shows the world fastest car crash test. The UK’s Channel 5’s Fifth Gear program crashed Ford Focus into a concrete wall at 120 mph.
The car was instantaneously reduced to less than half of the original size. Of course, the cabin space disappeared. If you had been on the car, you would have been completely flattened before you feel anything.
When I watched this video first, I couldn’t believe the car was going only at 120 mph. It seemed to me the crash happened at 200 mph or so although I knew Ford Focus can’t go that fast. The impact was astonishing. You will never survive it it. It is obvious that Ford Focus, or probably any normal passenger cars you can buy, is not made for a 120 mph crash. Remember, however, cars that most of you drive probably go easily faster than 120 mph.
As a life-long avid racing fan, I have seen numerous racing accidents. Those who drive in Formula One, Indycar, Le Mans and NASCAR normally walk off of a 120 mph crash.
Those racing cars are designed to save the driver’s life when they crash at 200 mph or faster because those cars are capable of doing 200 mph or faster.
Then why don’t we demand cars that save our life in a 120 mph crash? Those cars we drive are capable of going over 120 mph. We should be able to survive crashes that our cars are capable of creating. In such a car, you will easily survive when your car is hit by a drunken driver’s car at 60 mph.
Technologies necessary to produce such cars have been available as evident in cars in the major racing series. Car manufacturers will surely say it’s too expensive to produce those ultra safe cars. I don’t think so. Once one car maker start selling those cars at an affordable price, few will buy dangerous cars from other manufacturers.
Going back to the crash video, it is very clear that the most impact shock absorbing part of the car is the passenger cabin! What is this car designed to protect? Your grocery bags? Or golf bags?
Any car must be designed to protect the space that driver and passengers occupy. Isn’t it obvious? Apparently it is not for car manufacturers.
We must be strapped in a shell that is virtually indestructible at a 120 mph crash. Everything outside the shell must be able to absorb the impact by collapsing at an impact. Isn’t it simple?
Once these ultra safe cars are out there, we will have a hard time finding any reasons why we drive such dangerous cars now. I hope the ultra safe cars appear soon, but I know also they won’t be produced unless we demand them, or unless a Steve Jobs of the auto industry becomes CEO of a car maker.
Let’s demand ultra safe cars.
There is another reason why I’m writing this. A few days ago, I was driving on I-5 N near Northgate in Seattle in the afternoon. I was doing about 65 mph as other cars around me. Then a BMV passed me on my left at twice as fast as I was going. I didn’t hear the car was approaching me. It was just a flash. As soon as it passed me, it turned right going through without braking between me and the car in front of me. The car made a similar move twice to exit to Northgate Mall and went through the red light.
I happened so fast. Perhaps most drivers around me didn’t even notice it. The car was probably going above 130 mph weaving through traffic without braking. If I saw those moves on a racing track, I would applaud.
I couldn’t believe the way the driver appeared to trust other drivers around him or her. If a driver around him or her had braked or turned the steering wheel, the driver of the BMW could have easily hit the car and become a passenger who was unable to control the car at all. Then the BMW could have hit a concrete wall at 130 mph.
We now know what would have happened to the car and driver. Was the driver drunken? Or just insane?
To make things worse, I could have hit the BMW or other car if the BMW lost the control. Then I could have hit something at 60 mph. This kind of stuff happens very often as long as we allow many people to drink and drive.
I just wish I would be in an ultra safe car when it happens to me.