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Reblogged:Three Cheers for Car Occupant Safety

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To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the independent nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) (founded in 1959), engineers conducted and filmed a head-on offset crash between a 1959 Chevy Bel Air and a 2009 Chevy Malibu. It's an old article and an old video, but they're worthwhile examples of the marvels of technology well applied to the problem of human flourishing:
Watching the modern Malibu, the hood area deforms significantly but the passenger area looks almost entirely intact. Shift your eyes over to the 1959 Chevy and it's the stuff of old highway-safety and shock-and-scare films, just melodrama and implied gore. There's plenty of car gore though, with the Bel Air's steering column slammed forward into the driver, the A-pillar completely mangled, and the dash pushed back to finish the punch. Trim pieces fly, shards of non-safety-glass fly forward, and ... well, that's probably enough of a spoiler.

In case there's any doubt based on the description above, according to safety engineers at the scene, the driver of the 2009 Chevrolet Malibu would likely have suffered slight knee injury. The driver of the 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air would have died instantly. [bold added]
This video is special to me for a couple of reasons. First, as someone who is quick to complain about misapplied "shiny-button" technology -- like plasma screens -- on newer cars, it does me good to see that cars have overall improved greatly over time.

Second, and much more important, the video reminds me of how grateful I was to have survived my own real-life experience with lots of this technology: About four years ago, I was rear-ended at highway speed while stopped at an intersection. I was driving my two young children home from daycare and kindergarten on the evening of my wife's birthday.

My car was totaled, but my children and I all survived without injury, save for bruising caused by a restraint on my daughter's car seat. I was in awe of the technology that sprang into play then and I am today.


And I remain grateful: It is likely that I have two healthy, whole children and am alive to help raise them today thanks to the dedication and hard work of the good people at the IIHS.

-- CAV

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