General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

Which car safety gear is safer?

Asked by Ltryptophan (10269points) March 4th, 2010

Which set of gear would be safer for everyday use regardless of practicality.

1: roll cage, neck brace shoulder gizmo, helmet, four point seat belts.

2. average number of standard airbags, seat belt.

If the answer is number 1, then why don’t we drive like this?

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22 Answers

davidbetterman's avatar

Are you a race car driver? Do you live in L.A.?
All you need is a seat belt and drive defensively.

Ltryptophan's avatar

So, which way do you think is safer, 1 or 2….....I really don’t know.

ShiningToast's avatar

I would say 1.

If you have the 5 Point harness and neck brace, you don’t need an airbag.

We don’t drive this way because it is hot, uncomfortable, and unpractical.

Ltryptophan's avatar

ok, so if I get a cheap car and a five point harness and a roll cage…i’m set right? i can take on the world like a mercedes right?

ShiningToast's avatar

@Ltryptophan Meh, maybe. Assuming the roll cage is welded securely to the frame, and the car has adequate crumple zones.

The roll cage will keep you from dying if you roll your car, and that is about it.

The five point harness is to keep in your car and from being killed by stuff inside your car (steering wheel, etc..)

The crumple zones keep you safe when other cars hit you.

If you get broadsided, that sucks. You’re probably going to get hurt no matter what car you’re in.

Ltryptophan's avatar

Well, I am getting rid of my brand new car, and I want to get something safe as a replacement eventually. If I can get away with a dirt cheap car…I will! I was thinking with a few little additions it would be as good as anything else, any ideas?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

The safest car gear is “Park”, with the brake set… and be off the road when you set that, because anywhere on the road and definitely anywhere “moving” starts to decrease your safety.

As for your two listed options (out of infinite variations), the first one might be marginally safer, depending on the vehicle you put that gear into and how you drive. I’d take “standard safety equipment” in my Camry over anything you want to put into a Pinto (assuming you can still drive the thing you end up with).

ShiningToast's avatar

@Ltryptophan If you are going to go the five point harness route, you’ll most likely have to get a new seat with anchoring points for the harness.

Most cars that have been made in the last 15 years are pretty safe. How crappy/old were you going to go?

Ltryptophan's avatar

well, I was thinking if its a honda, that would be nice. yeah, Honda is the only criteria because I am so used to them.

Ltryptophan's avatar

I really will be living so close to my job in a few weeks that a car is just not going to get driven. So, I just want something just in case.

Ltryptophan's avatar

I don’t even want it anytime soon. I am willing to plan it out/wait it out. Any good reasons to have a car? So far I’ve got, get to hospital quick, visit parents, grocery getter(but grocery is where I work and it’s only 4 blocks, and it’s just me),

ShiningToast's avatar

@Ltryptophan If you aren’t really going to be using it, then I wouldn’t sweat putting in the extra stuff. As long as it has air bags (I think they became mandatory in 1998), you’ll be ok. Just drive defensively :).

DarkScribe's avatar

You don’t really want an answer do you? You just want to express an opinion.

Fred931's avatar

I’d just skip finding a cheap-as-chips small car and get a good, more recent one for under 10k, such as a Scion (other than the tC, that got bad crash ratings), Honda Fit, Kia Soul, and the to-be-released Fiat 500 and Ford Fiesta. There are plenty of good, safe choices out there. Besides, the things you would do to your old Honda would just make you look ridiculous.

Cruiser's avatar

#1 of course but nobody would settle for helmet head we would get from wearing helmets!

jerv's avatar

At normal streetcar speeds, a full rollcage is a death trap. See, if a car crumples then it absorbs kinetic energy and spreads the impact over a longer period of time whereas a full cage passes more kinetic energy onto the squishy filling (that’s you) quicker. Not quite as bad as a full-on tube frame, but it takes just enough flex/crumple out of a normal car to cause issues.

The only reason we need cages in some vehicles is that those vehicles move as such high speeds that a side impact that would bend the bars on a rollcage would otherwise cause the door panels to meet in a car without one, just causing aforementioned squishy filling to squirt out.

As for the racing harness, it spreads out the impact force over a larger area, but that really isn’t an issue at mere highway speeds and thus not worth the added expense to the carmaker nor the added inconvenience to the driver. Besides, people seem to have a hard enough time figuring out the seatbelts we have now.

The HANS device is the only thing on your list that would actually increase safety at normal speeds, but considering how many people break their necks in accidents, you’re almost better off getting NBC shielding as that would protect you from a more likely hazard.

So, for a normal car, they have pretty much hit the point of diminishing returns so long as the speed limit is under 100 MPH.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

None of my vehicles is new enough to have air bags. I use standard three-point belts and drive conservatively. The accident that killed my wife, nothing less than riding in a tank would have saved her (T-boned by a 30 ton truck at 60 mph). Her little TR3A was flattened like a pancake, killed instantly, at least she didn’t suffer.

casheroo's avatar

A five point harness is safest. I would wear it in the car if I had one. My children will be in it for quite a few years (past the legal age of 4, in my state) because it is so safe. Cars should come with the option.

jerv's avatar

@casheroo You can get those for most cars from a racing parts place, though installing them is a bit involved. The really good ones have an anchor in the rear that negates the possibility of a back seat; no big deal for a CRX or a Miata, but it might be an issue for a family car.

However, they limit your mobility considerably so you would have to move all of the vehicle controls to the steering wheel (or close proximity) and otherwise do massive changes to the vehicle interior so that you could do anything without having to lean.You might wind up with something akin to the old Chevy Corsica or Subaru XT with their almost cocoon-like front seats. Of course, there would have to be frame members to attach them to, further limiting passenger/cargo space. If I tried installing one in many of the cars I’ve had, I would not have been able to shift. (The OP wanted to ignore practicality, but I can’t.)

Race cars and child seats can get away with them because they are modified specifically to have the driver able to reach everything, sometimes in ways that preclude the possibility of a front passenger’s seat, while kids really have no business touching any vehicle controls anyways.

Also, I assume that what you have your kid in has a weight limit. If the kid is too heavy for the child seat you have then the safety of the harness will be negated by the kid flying through the windshield with what’s left of the seat still attached to them. Exceeding that weight limit will compromise the ability of the child seat to remain held in place in an accident. There is a reason that children graduate from baby carriers with their own harness to using the normal seatbelt. Watch that weight limit closely; it’s there for a reason!

casheroo's avatar

@jerv The carseats we use go up to 65lbs or 80lbs. It’s the height that usually gets people with carseats, that’s why we had to switch from a bucket seat to a convertible for my son when he was only 7 months old.

jerv's avatar

@casheroo As long as you’re keeping an eye on it.

Maybe I wouldn’t be so uptight about the harness thing if I hadn’t seen so many that were improperly installed or by someone who only got them because they look fast and really doesn’t care about safety.
As for putting them in a regular car, that would require either a harness bar between the B-pillars if you don’t have a roll cage or bolting the anchor between the rear wheels, pretty much negating the possibility of a back seat. Of course, putting one low enough to work for most people would likely put it too low for me and thus would compress my spine on impact (unsafe!), so harnesses pretty much have to be custom installs and thus cannot be factory equipment.

Nice thought, but I don’t see it happening on any car with more than 2 seats.

@Ltryptophan If you are that concerned about safety then remember that you have to get out of the car sometime and thus won’t always be protected by it. Even my old ‘85 Toyota has decent protection for the urban conditions I drive under. I am far less safe walking down the street or at work than I am sitting in my bone stock Corolla. And I won’t even get into the hazards associated with breathing or drinking city water or eating damn near anything.
Sorry, but no roll cage or harness will protect you from a stroke, let alone some wingnut with a rifle. I’m sure than many of the DC Sniper’s victims were driving cars that had excellent crash safety ratings.
Life is hard.

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