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I have a theory about the safety of cars - Long...

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An earlier post about making Mustangs safer with 3 point seatbelts reminded me of a theory that I have about cars and safety:

While I am certainly in favor of the safety items that have been developed in cars over the years, I think that they also have a downside to them - namely, that people will drive at a level that corresponds to how safe they feel in an automobile. If that makes no sense, read on:

Let's use 4 wheel drum brakes vs. modern disc, anti-locks. As a driver of my Mustang every day, I have never had a problem with the drum brakes, including wet weather, and I live in the mountains. However, I drive at a level that respects the limitations of the braking system my car has. I don't ride other people's bumpers and then expect my car to stop on a dime when the person in front of me is slamming on their brakes. By the same token, I witness people every single day coming up to obvious stopping situations (traffic, stop signs, lites, etc) and doing 55mph until they're 50 feet from the stopping point and then applying the brakes hard and stopping short.

I can think of other examples. When I used to have my 4wd truck, in wintery weather while I would be driving in 4wd (TRUE 4wd rather than AWD) people in these AWD Suv's would be flying by me on the highway, I'm sure all the while thinking their AWD was going to neutralize any ice that may be on the bridges, etc. I never saw anyone pass me in an old rear wheel drive Mustang, however.

I'll finish this up by saying that I suspect that, as more 'safety' devices are invented, people are forgetting more of the common sense that it takes to drive a car successfully (not injuring you, someone else, or the cars). Maybe everyone should have to drive 60's or earlier cars for a couple of years before they're allowed to drive modern cars so that they could learn some good driving skills.

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2022 Mach 1
638 Posts
I agree...with the college kids around here, I always drive in fear that one of them will hit me from the rear, they get so damned close to the car when I stop....I always stay a good distance away from those in front of me, the joys of drum brakes......

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· Gone but never forgotten
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I agree 100% ... the only other thing to add is the flip side that some of the modern safety devices actually do more harm than good. Statistics show that far more people have been injured by air bags, than have been saved by them ... ah, technology is wonderful double edged sword, ain't it?

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Unfortunately you are absolutely right! The safer the car gets, the more unsafe the driver gets. They need to feel something in their cars. In our 60-ies cars, we only have to take a turn to fast on a wet road to get a hell of a kick and really feel your heart pound as the car starts to slide. In these modern cars with their esp, abs, airbags, retracting safetybelts etc., the driver has to get more crazy before driving feels exiting again. I think that is a big part of the reason for peoples driving habits today.

But, you opened a can of worms I guess, cause no matter what we say, there are always the fast drivers that still think they drive safely going 70 MPH in an 30 MPH zone.

I had the exact same thought you described... Put people in a 60-ies car for a week, and they'll soon realise what safe driving really constitutes.

And to add..... I'm not a slow driver (I like to get away at a light as fast as possible, but I don't speed, I stop accelerating when I just exceeded the limit imposed upon us), but still a safe one. I too used to stick to bumpers too much, but since driving my stang to work daily, I learned to keep my distance and adjust my speed and driving style to the conditions of the road and traffic. I feel that I now am a truly good driver, knowing the limitations of all vehicles I drive and still driving them like they are all 60-ies cars......

One thing though, keeping distance also has a negative side. As you for instance leave three car lengths in between you and the one before you, you'll notice that the fast idiots think they can use that space to quickly push in their car, leaving you with less than the desired space, and often still causing you to apply the brakes for an emergency (almost) stop (this happens especially when coming to a stop for a traffic light). I try to keep that in mind as well and leave enough room for the stang to stop plus a little extra, but not so much that it gets attractive for idiots to fill the gap.

Just my opinion...


First time '66 Mustang rolling restoration, nearing completion.

Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Although all of you have made good points, I must disagree with the air bag remark. I was in a horrible wreck 1.5 years ago. A Guy ran a stop street doing 60-70 I'd guess, I t-boned him doing about 40. After impact, we spun 180* then I wrapped around a telephone pole. Although the Pole was a side impact, when I t-boned the guy, there was enough force, to force my engine upinto the firewall, and bend the forward frame rail over 90*. BTW, I was in a 98 Dodge Ram Extended Cab. (Big truck) It twisted the cab on the frame. The telephone pole went about 10-12 inches deep in to the extension of the Cab. Thanks to God and my air Bag, I walked away. I will have to admit though, that the Air bag was my only injury. There is still a small scar on my forearm from where the air bag scraped against my arm as it deployed.
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I have to agree with you completely. My wife has a 2000 Boxster, it is a great little car and lots of a 100MPH! Below that it is almost mundain. You can't bark the tires in any gear or even slide the rear out in the rain. Not that I'm suggesting these are the only (or safest) ways to have fun in a car, but as you mentioned taking a turn to fast on a wet (or even dry) road will give you a hell of a kick in a classic stang. I find myself exceeding the speed limit in the Porsche far more often than I would like. I appreciate the abundant safety features of the modern cars, but it does instill over confidence in many drivers.

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I will have to agree with you too! People do get more unsafe with more of the safety that they get! But one day we will have really advanced technology like on demoliation man where slyvestor crashed and all that foam came out of the car and protected him or we will have teleporters....Beam Me Up Scotty!!!!...LOL

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326 Posts
Let's just put spikes on the steering wheels of all the new cars instead of airbags. All new car owners will become safer drviers instantly.


64 1/2 coupe built around April 30, 1964
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· Registered
3,370 Posts
I have to ask: Were you wearing your seat belt? If so, why credit the air bag? You probably would have walked away anyway. The air bag certainly did nothing for you in the secondary collision. It was already deflated by then.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to air bags. I'm opposed to safety bureaucrats who require devices strong enough to save the full grown man who doesn't fasten his seat belt while considering the potentially fatal consequences to my belted 4' 11" wife or small kids to be acceptable losses in pursuing the greater good. In other words, they are put at risk of death or injury to benefit the fool who chose not to protect himself.

OK, I'll get off my soapbox now! /forums/images/icons/crazy.gif

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