Things are safer than they seem

By Carl Cunanan Philippine Daily Inquirer July 03,2019

Just the other day, I got a message from one of the C! Magazine guys. They were asking about whether we as a group should chase after the various viral posts that always get so much attention. My first reaction was, why are you asking me this question. That was never really what we did. But, they explained, this was something different.

There was a post on social media that had just gone up, showing a photo of an accident between a car and a bicycle. First reaction was shock and a little laugh, because the biker was looking back at his rear tire and the rather large crease in the bumper of the car that had just rolled into the tire. He was still on his bike, so it was pretty on-the-spot.

Our guys argued that the comments coming up from this post were rather ill-informed, that they did not really understand that modern cars are meant to do precisely what the little car did. By folding and collapsing, the front end of the car took away as much of the energy as possible that otherwise would have been transmitted to the biker, or in other cases to the occupant of the car. Basically, this accident shows how things are supposed to work.

When you talk to modern automotive engineers and designers, they will tell you surprising things. They are so much more successful now in reducing the damage done to car cabin occupants that they can now better address the potential damage to other road users, bikes, and pedestrians and children you can’t always see. If you look at modern engine bays and see all this empty space, you may think you have a small engine. In many ways with smaller engines doing more work with less fuel; that may be true. But the designers are also building in space for metals to collapse, for hoods to sag, for all the different metals now used to deform appropriately in order to take as much energy as possible away from anything living. Its at the point now where designers will say that their cars could be sleeker or more aerodynamically efficient if it weren’t for the fact that (and rightfully so, they say), they had to address the pedestrian safety concerns and other such things that we all never really understood so well.

There’s a lot going on with modern cars that we don’t really see. They need to have a higher level of environmental friendliness, which means more ability to have materials segregated more easily when cars end up reaching their projected lifespan end. This can translate clearly into things that deteriorate that never used to, like wiring (this depends completely on brand though), or even knobs and switches that you feel every time you drive. Also, the fact that cars are safer and more environmentally friendly means we rely more on computing power and software upgrades than ever. This also tends to mean that parts and systems are meant to be replaced rather than repaired. Which doesn’t sit all that well with those of us that have cars older than our children. Still, just like the designers and engineers that face all this everyday, we cannot deny that making the world safer for those children and their own children, is worth dealing with the fact that our beloved cars are a little harder to maintain nowadays.

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