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When Safe Could Mean Sorry

When Safe Could Mean Sorry

Not that many years ago motor racing was considerably more dangerous than it is now. Tragedy was fairly common but as time and technology have moved forward so safety precautions have saved many lives, as Mark Webber can surely attest after his horrific F1 crash at Valencia in 2010.

The good news is that these racing test beds allow the science of safety to filter down to the cars that we drive today. Current studies however seem to be showing that the more aware we are of the safety features on our cars, the more likely we are to take chances on the basis that we will probably walk away from a shunt.

We have ABS, ESP, TCS, EDS and others that are variously scattered around the new and used cars on sale today. Couple these with any number of airbags which, if they all went off in a crash, would give an understanding of how it would feel to be inside a blancmange and it is no wonder that drivers are possibly being overconfident.

Surrey County Council have published research on road deaths in the first ten years of this century. Previously, give or take the odd aberration, motoring deaths have steadily been decreasing but between the 2000-2006, the number remained broadly level. There has been a drop off in the three years up to 2010 but that is thought to be the result of the economic downturn.

From these figures the researchers have deduced that some car users are being a tad reckless in their driving habits. This may well be so but it could also represent the increasing numbers of cars on our roads and possibly just a drop in driving standards because the cars have become too easy to drive. Nevertheless, it is valid research and a timely reminder to complacent drivers.

Just because there is a greater likelihood that drivers and passengers will walk away from an accident doesn’t mean to say that this will necessarily be so. That is the nature of accidents; they are unpredictable, as the tragic death of the great Ayrton Senna showed.

In the first one hundred years of the automobile drivers were more aware of the fact that they were operating machinery. Clutches and steering were heavier and suspension more basic. If you wanted to throw a car around then an accident was sure to result unless you could really drive. This isn’t the case today. Cars are so technologically advanced that they virtually drive themselves. Yet in the rush to more and more legislation inspired safety options, are we in danger of forgetting that we are in charge of a tonne or so of metal travelling at speed?

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- who has written 474 posts on Motor Blogger.

Geoff is a freelance writer and photographer.

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bG9nZ2VyX0xvZ28uanBnIjtpOjI7czo3MzoiaHR0cDovL21vdG9yYmxvZ2dlci5jby51ay93cC1jb250ZW50L3dvb191cGxvYWRzLzMtTW90b3JfQmxvZ2dlcl9Mb2dvLnBuZyI7fTwvbGk+PGxpPjxzdHJvbmc+d29vX3ZpZGVvX2NhdGVnb3J5PC9zdHJvbmc+IC0gQXV0byBOZXdzPC9saT48L3VsPg==