Monday, January 27, 2014

Crash Test Results Predict Injuries


Cars are getting smaller, and as an injury attorney, this worries me. While safety systems are much improved, you just cannot beat basic physics. Small cars are cheaper to own and operate, as they get better mileage, and they are quite easy to get around parking lots.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crashes millions of dollars of perfectly good new cars to gauge how well they might protect their occupants. They once simply crashed head on into barriers like most government tests still do. This spread the forces over a maximal area.

However, to their credit, they have recently made some frontal impact crash tests slightly off center. These focus force on one front corner, at 40 m.p.h. I think this better indicates the real world case of a drunk crossing the centerline slightly. It has also revealed what I had predicted: small cars are generally more dangerous.

The front end of a car usually has a “crush zone.” Often, small notches are cut into the frame that allow it to crumple. This dissipates the force more slowly, which is better for the occupants. However, the newer corner impact tests seem to mostly bypass this crumple zone, and this puts the passenger compartment at risk.

I am not even familiar with many of the newest smaller models, all under 2,500 lbs. I still lope around in my immense, gas-guzzling 5,000 lb.+ Suburban. But out of almost a dozen cars, only one known as the “Chevy Spark” was even acceptable.  None were ranked “good.” The subcompacts that did not even make the “acceptable” cut included subcompact cars from Toyota, Kia, Hyundai, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Fiat and Honda. Safety ratings can be deceptive. A large SUV and a small sedan might share identical safety ratings, but they are rating cars within the same size class.

In general, occupants heavy cars and trucks come out better in a crash. Large, heavy vehicles, like my behemoth SUV, long, wide crumple zones, and often shove the lighter car backward at impact. Thus, the rates of driver deaths are higher for the lighter vehicles. Midsize and large SUVs are safest, as SUVs are also not prone to under-ride another vehicle in a crash, while risk of roll over is still significant.

Drive safely. 

No amount of safety equipment can truly protect any of us from a distracted driver.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014



As an accident and injury lawyer, I keep up with new laws that relate to my personal injury and death cases. However, some new laws get noticed for their sheer oddity. Here are some of the new 2014 laws, out of over 40,000, that someone, somewhere felt were very important to pass.

Rocky mountain high?: Apparently, people are too responsible in Colorado, so now those slackers and losers 21 or older can purchase an ounce of marijuana from stores legally.  Snack food sales are also expected to skyrocket.

Bad news for pasty white young ladies in Chicago: Indoor tanning sessions are now illegal in Illinois for anyone under 18.

Boy? Girl? Other?: In (where else?) California, public school students can now participate in school sports programs and use school bathrooms "consistent with their gender identity.” I am unsure if that can change within each day, week or month?

They had to have a rule?: New mothers in Oregon, can finally take their placentas home from the hospital. Believe it not, there are supposedly reported health benefits from consuming them? Yuck.

Jaws is finally safe: Sale, possession or distribution of shark fins prohibited in Delaware.

Electric cars are supposed to save money?: Colorado has a new $50 fee for those new-fangled plug-in electric cars.  It is annual. I imagine it will rise.

Gun control hysteria: The horrible Newtown school shooting took place in a gun-free zone. School shootings elsewhere have been successfully stopped by armed adults.  Thus, good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns. So, Connecticut will now mandate registration of all the good guys’ assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines, which will have absolutely no affect whatever on crime or shootings. Bad guys tend not to register them and also are okay with breaking the law, or they would not murder innocent people.  See, that’s already illegal pretty much everywhere.