The Ironical Chronicle "The [media] class keeps its writers the way one keeps a canary. If it sings, fine. If it doesn't sing or, what's even worse, if it doesn't sing the desired melody, one gets rid of it." Kurt Tucholsky, Berlin, 1931 in a review of "Money Writes!" by Upton Sinclair, 1927. [Lightly paraphrased, media = ruling in original German text.]

March 8, 2005

Most Media Reporters Get Lowest Rating in Common Sense Test

BURBANK, March 8 - New research shows they were born that way. I don't know who Danny Hakim is, but I'd say he eats bird seed for dinner.

Economy cars have been around forever. They were the correct response to increasing gas prices, pollution, and traffic density. SUV's came along much later, were the wrong response to the same conditions, and additionally, by design, increased the risk of injury and death to the owners of the existing economy car fleet.

So where's the cause of the increased risk?

According to birdbrain, it's the econo-car driver's fault for not buying an armored, IED-proof Humvee which can stand up to the SUV's and pickups with those gleaming chrome teeth just itching to come through his side window.

Is he stupid or what?


The New York Times

March 7, 2005

Most New Small Cars Get Lowest Rating in Crash Test


DETROIT, March 6 - New research shows that small cars are not being built well enough to stand up to sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks in side impacts.


DETROIT, March 6 - New research shows that sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks are being built to kill occupants of small vehicles in side impacts.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which is financed by car insurers, conducted the research and released its report Sunday night. In it, the institute said 14 of 16 small cars received the lowest of four possible safety ratings in a side-impact collision.

The group was unusually harsh in its assessment of one car, the Dodge Neon. "This car is a disaster," said Adrian Lund, the chief operating officer for the institute.

The Toyota Corolla and the new Chevrolet Cobalt from General Motors were the only small cars tested that received anything better than a rating of poor. The two vehicles were rated acceptable, the second-highest rating from the group. Both received the rating only when equipped with optional side curtain air bags. Without that option, the Corolla and the Cobalt were given poor ratings.

The institute also released two frontal crash test results Sunday, and gave the Cobalt its highest rating in that test.

Outside of the government, the institute conducts the most extensive crash testing of vehicles sold in the United States. In 2003, the institute began the first crash tests that simulate what happens when a sport utility vehicle or pickup strikes another vehicle in the side. By contrast, the government's side-impact tests simulate what happens when a car strikes other vehicles in the side.

The results released Sunday involved the first small cars subjected to the insurer's test, which uses two dummies that represent smaller-size women riding in the front and back seats. One purpose of using these dummies is to make sure that curtain air bags extend far enough to protect the heads of shorter people.

Small cars are particularly vulnerable when being hit in the side by S.U.V.'s and pickup trucks, whose higher ground clearance means they often do not engage with the most crash-absorbing structures of cars.

Federal statistics show that the vehicles with the lowest fatality rates for their own occupants are large cars, station wagons and minivans. Sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks offset the advantages of their increased bulk with their relative instability, because they ride higher from the ground.

In 2003, automakers agreed to start working jointly to make cars safer when they are hit by trucks, and to make S.U.V.'s and pickups less lethal when they hit cars.

The insurer's new test, however, shows there is much work to do.

Side air bags that offer head protection have been seen as one important safety feature worth having, but four small cars with such equipment - the Volkswagen Beetle, the Hyundai Elantra, the Kia Spectra and the Suzuki Forenza - received poor ratings because their structures were not sturdy enough to protect other parts of the body.

The Neon fared particularly badly, with the driver dummy sustaining high levels of force to its head, torso and pelvis. The institute tests vehicles with standard equipment, but companies are permitted to pay for testing of their vehicles with optional air bags as well. DaimlerChrysler chose not to do so with its Neon.

Mr. Lund said the company probably felt that the Neon's structure was so deficient that side air bags would not appreciably help.

"If safety is a priority, the Neon is a small car to be avoided," he said.

In a statement, DaimlerChrysler said that the "Neon has performed well under a variety of internal and external test conditions, exceeding all federal safety standards for side-impact protection."

"No single test can determine a vehicle's overall safety performance or how the vehicle will perform in a specific crash," the statement said.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company