Miraculously alive and mostly uninjured

Somehow came across this:

Are Tiny, Gas-Saving Cars Unsafe? Today Mine Saved My Life
I rolled my Toyota Yaris three times this morning after hitting a six-foot-high dirt embankment at highway speed. I crawled out with no more than a bump on my head, seat belt burn, and a massively stiff neck. So, for all you small car safety-doubters out there, I’ve now got personal experience to say otherwise.

The writer says that after this experience he believes small cars are as safe (or even safer) than larger vehicles and that he would have no trouble trusting the lives of his family to a small fuel-efficient car.

The problem here, of course, is that the writer’s one personal experience, which even he describes as “miraculous,” is not enough data to draw a meaningful conclusion from. If someone knows a person who had one accident in a small car and was killed, would that mean that small cars are a 100% guarantee of death? No, of course it wouldn’t. In the same way, this one incident does not really prove anything about the safety of the Toyota Yaris.

While I’m certainly glad that the writer was fine after his accident, I don’t think that any sort of point has been proven. And to take his opinion as a guide for legislation or safety requirements to be applicable to other people would be irresponsible.

I once heard an argument very similar to this from a guy who refused to wear a helmet when he drove motorcycle. He had experienced what was basically a “miraculous” survival after spilling his bike without a helmet and refused to wear one. Without getting into details, a later accident didn’t end so well and I had the unfortunate luck to be kneeling in a pool of his blood at 2AM one morning waiting for the ambulance to arrive. It got there quickly, but not nearly quickly enough.

People have survived falls from airplanes without parachutes. That doesn’t mean parachutes are a vastly overrated safety device and we’d be fine jumping without them.


  1. Small cars are generally quite safe.

    Obviously some aren’t. I have a friend who has a Fiat Cinquecento (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_Cinquecento) which I would not wish to have a crash in.

    Especially at US driving speeds people should be ok with small cars. Over here (UK) the average speed tends to be around 80mph.

    Just because a car is big it does not make it safe, in exactly the same way if a car is small it does not make it safe! Unless you know exactly how the structure is built, it is very difficult to make any comment on the safety of the car!

  2. A car’s safety is influenced by hundreds of aspects of the car design. Size is just one of many, and if it is good or bad it still depends on how it relates to other aspects.

  3. I’ve been driving 49-years. Big cars and small cars and I’ve learned:

    1) Generally MOST accidents are preventable AND/OR avoidable.

    2) Speed has a lot to do with the occupant’s extent of injuries.

    3) SO as with many things in life:

    It’s not the size. It’s how you use it!

  4. The size of the car matters when you have a crash between two cars of different size, height, and weight. The smaller car, including the passangers, will suffer more damage than the bigger car. I mean, if I would have an accident in my Honda Civic, which weighs about 1,100 kilos, against a large SUV weighing two tons, it is more likely that I would suffer more injuries, does not matter what score we had at the crash test.

    Three days ago, a Kia Sephia collided with a Honda Accord. All three passangers in the Kia died, while the passangers in the Accord escaped with minor injuries.

  5. Delphi Says:

    “The size of the car matters when you have a crash between two cars of different size, height, and weight.”

    According to the established las of physics that statement is correct.


    That’s where Defensive driving and common sense comes into play.

    Like going to a knife fight with a Glock those two factors gives the driver of the smaller vehicle the edge.

    I seldom drive over the speed limit.

    I mostly drive the limit when conditions allow.

    I sometimes drive below the speed limit when common sense dictates. (Heavy rain, sleet, snow, heavy traffic)

    I use my signals even when there isn’t another car in sight and I stay right on the high-way except to pass.

    A car to me is just one expensive pile of metal and plastic. I do P.M. it on the recommend schedule, but I don’r love it. hell, I don’t even like it.

    Someone asked me once what car I would buy if I won a couple of million in the lottery.

    Geez, I said that’s easy. A Chauffeur driven one!

    Call it defensive, prudent or “sissy,girly or what ever” it’s served me well for almost 50-years. Beween military and civilian driving I clocked up beau coup miles. But my number of vehicle accident record remains…………….. ZIPPO!

  6. The author should have written:
    “I caused myself some minor injuries and a financial blow by my negligence behind the wheel.”

    Toejam: I’m glad you haven’t had any wrecks, but you have to admit that luck had some part to play. I just saw 2 wrecks within 2 minutes of each other about a week ago. The first one was the result of both drivers not paying enough attention (btw the 4runner owned the subie in that wreck) and the second one was totally unavoidable by one driver. He did everything right. He didn’t rubberneck, he slowed down and gave the first accident room, and came to a safe stop behind the car in front of him. Then he was hit by a rubbernecker. He saw it coming and had nowhere to go. Luckily both of these accidents were at relatively low speeds, but the SUVs came out ahead against the cars both times. Just one of those physics things.

  7. I hear you blair,

    The second wreck is the scary one.

    One of my main driving disciplines is: Look as far ahead as possible and scan back. Do this constantly. I also check my rear-view mirror and side-mirrors as I scan.

    If I’m in heavy traffic on a high-way and see traffic slowing I let the space between me and the car in front open up (hopefully I don’t get the idiots who skate-board from lane to lane hop in).

    As the traffic slows I keep my eyes glued to the rear-view mirror to see if the guy/girl behind me is slowing. I’ve never been rear-ended (well, once at a stop sign when we were all stopped and the car behind me rolled into me and tapped my bumper). I think the Idea is lots of space and a Long steady slow down. This is all predicated on my look as far ahead as possible and anticipate way before anything happens.

    But, your right. It’s like making love. You can put 12-condoms on, your lover can be on the pill and using a diaphram and you can pull out just before coming, but there is still that statistical chance you’ll be a daddy.

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