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Old 01-07-2002, 04:49 PM
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blackmercedes blackmercedes is offline
Just a guy
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 3,492
I think Kuan was kidding...:p

There is some purely ancedotal evidence to suggest that the poor structural quality of the full-size pick-up is more of a detriment than some think.

A friend of mine was rear-ended in his W210 E320 by a Dodge P/U, and him and his family were fine, while the truck driver lost his leg due to the wheel and wheel-well intruding into the cabin. Had the truck had a proper passenger-space protecting design along with it's outrageous weight, the driver would have walked away.

Another member had his 300E W124 stuffed by a Dodge, and the driver of the truck suffered a similar fate.

I think the worst fate would be to drive a car like a Neon. Not only is it small and light, it's part of the Chrysler product line that I feel is underdesigned when passenger-space protection is concerned.

"Slap some air-bags in 'em, and people will think they're safe."

I also find that large vehicles like trucks and SUV's are not driven with the care that they require. Stopping distances are much longer than cars, and emergency handling is poor.

My Dad has a full size Dodge P/U for hauling lumber. When I have occasion to drive it, I rarely exceed the speed limit (most of the time below it), leave huge following distances, and avoid any instance where I might have to make sudden direction changes. Not that I don't drive my car defensively, but I increase my defense level when driving a truck.

It's okay to drive unsafe things. I love roadsters, especially ones made in the '70's. I also love motorcycles. I just don't try to say that they're safer. Trucks may have instances where they are indeed safer than a mid-sized German car, but I feel that overall they are not safer.

I have never been in a collision in a Mercedes. It's active safety capability has kept me out of trouble so far, and in a couple instances, in a lesser car (or truck) I would surely have been in a collision. If the time comes, I also know that my car has exceptional passive safety, but hopefully the active safety features will help reduce the effect of the impact.

It's all about perception, and I feel that most people have been sold a bill of goods by The Big Three. How?

1. Big is good. Why not have most people driving 2800lb family sedans? Things would be equal, and we'd use fewer non-renewable resources. In some insane attempt to have the biggest (and therefore safest) vehicle on the road, we've got freeways clogged with SUV's being driven as commuter cars.

2. Airbags. They only increase your safety slightly over wearing seatbelts. Marginal increases at best. We'd be better off taking the $1000 or more per vehicle and pouring it into driver training.

3. Active safety is bad. Manufacturers have stopped talking about brakes and suspensions. They talk about airbags and weight. And you know, maybe they're right. Your average driver can't seem to drive straight ahead, much less emergency brake or swerve. Oh well, I'll just smash into that guy and let my 3-tonne mass and airbags do their job.

Remember when Road & Track and Car and Driver catered to enthusiasts? They stuck out their tongues at Ford Country Squire wagons. They laughed at the boats that many makers called cars. It was about cars, and not just any cars. Cars that were fun to drive.

Now they test mini-vans and SUV's with regularity.

Oh well. As I enjoy being a contrarian, this era of trucks and SUV's should be my hey-day.
John Shellenberg
1998 C230 "Black Betty" 240K

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