Sunday, March 28, 2010

Smart Cars

I love my new Prius. It gets great gas mileage, has great visibility, a tight turning radius, lots of storage space and I can park it almost anywhere. Driving a Prius, I feel like I am doing my part to help the environment. In addition, I got a great deal on a used 2005 Toyota with only 60,000 miles. So, what's not to like?

Well, I saw an accident late this afternoon in my quiet suburban neighborhood. The speed limit in the neighborhood is 25 miles per hour. I didn't actually see the accident happen, but I must have driven by just a minute later. It happened at an intersection. When I drove by, neighbors were already out in the street, checking the accident victims and calling 911 on their cell phones. The two drivers were still in their vehicles. The driver I could see as I slowly drove past appeared dazed, if not semi-conscious.

The two cars T-boned, as one driver tried to make a left turn and instead hit the front left side of the other vehicle. The front of the car that was hit was pretty much totalled; the front right bumper, grill and headlight of the other vehicle had crumpled, but the rest of the vehicle seemed to be OK. The car that was hit was a small car; the one that hit it was a large SUV. At least one of these vehicles must have been going much faster than the speed limit to incur such significant vehicle damage.

Seeing this accident made me think twice about my purchase of the Prius; my previous car was the much larger and heavier Honda Accord. In an accident, a SUV might damage the Accord, but not to the extent it would damage a Prius.

The cute, tiny, fuel efficient Smart Cars are a great idea. Smart Cars are a great idea for cities, where parking is such a problem, and for doing local errands. But I don't think I would want to drive one on the Freeway; if a SUV hit you, your Smart Car would look like an accordian.

But what if everyone drove Smart Cars on local streets in their neighborhoods in the suburbs and in the cities? Then the weight ratio would not be an issue. What if there was a separation of trucks and cars on the freeways? I think that would make me fell a lot safer driving my Prius.

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