<VV> seats and car safety

Eric S. Eberhard flash@vicspdi.com
Fri, 27 Aug 2004 11:54:39 -0700

"However, it has been documented that ABS brakes increase stopping distance."

That is VERY silly and irresponsible.  It is an urban legend based on a 
long ago test with a professional race driver.

In very limited circumstance with a professional driver making a specific 
test, the statement is true.  For the vast majority drivers it would never 
be true.  For the professional driver just going down the street it would 
not be true.  For anyone braking hard with less than ideal conditions (such 
as one side of car in dirt, other on pavement, or on ice, or in a sharp 
corner, or ...) it is not true.

There was some big press quite a few years ago about this often-quoted 
documented case ... the professional driver stated several things in an 
interview on 60 Minutes several years later:  1) this was only straight 
line braking on dry pavement  2) the driver himself would only drive cars 
with ABS on the street (but not to race).

He said that even he, when driving on the street, is not giving 100% 
attention 100% of the time like he is in racing, and that ONLY when doing 
so (and only in the confines of relatively ideal road conditions of the 
race track) would he prefer not having ABS.

The other thing to note is that using ABS brakes properly requires 
re-training us old drivers in order to get the shortest distance.  With ABS 
brakes you plant your foot as hard as possible and never let go.  Of 
course, without you need to modulate the pedal, etc.  If you modulate with 
ABS you significantly increase stopping distances.  This is also well 
documented and often quoted without pointing out that the real point is 
"using ABS brakes IMPROPERLY increases stopping distance"

But never for a minute should anyone believe that for the vast majority of 
the time ABS brakes are so superior that if I could choose one way to 
modernize my Corvair, that would be it!

At 04:39 PM 8/26/2004, OPENHABIT@aol.com wrote:
>    Mr. Keplar makes some very good points about the newer cars. My son and
>daughter-in-law were saved by the crumple zones in the Suzuki Samurai 
>(yes, an
>SUV) they were in when a drunk driver hit them head-on on one of our local
>intestates. The zones slowed the impact very well. They both had on seat 
>belts, by
>habit. Disk brakes are more efficient than shoe brakes, till they heat up.
>However, it has been documented that ABS brakes increase stopping distance.
>    Now, in defense of the Corvair, I have never had an incident involving
>brakes in a Corvair, with the exception of towing a camping trailer down 
>out of
>the Shenandoahs. Even in that case, I was able to keep everything under 
>by the use of the hand brake. Notice, I didn't panic, I simply used the
>"emergency" brake instead. All I had to do to get off the mountain was 
>keep my
>finger on the release button, and apply the required pressure to keep from 
>ending the Corvairs in front of me. Loss of brakes would not have been 
>by a dual master cylinder, the fluid had boiled away from the wheel 
>So much for brakes.
>    In my opinion, the early windshield borrowed something that was 
> considered
>to very safe in the Volkswagen. The safety glass is held in by a rubber
>gasket only. In an accident, it can pop out. No screwed in trim in the way. I
>cannot testify as to how well it works, as I have had enough sense to 
>avoid an
>accident that would cause this to happen.
>    As for Nader, have you read the book? The car portion was only covered in
>one chapter. It was not about Corvairs, it was about the lack of innovative
>safety engineering in all cars. It actually discussed three new concept cars,
>the Corvair, the Valiant, and the Falcon. As a matter of fact he actually had
>some praise for the Corvair, he liked the position of the gas tank. Were 
>you at
>the DC convention? Mr. Nader addressed this very issue.
>    I have heard from some EMTs that they have seen a lot of injuries from
>three point belts, that wouldn't have happened with a seat belt only. I have
>heard as many say that they have seen worse injuries from lap belts. I 
>have even
>been told that in some very rare cases, the people would have been better off
>with no belt.
>    Most accident are the results of somebody doing something stupid. The
>safest way to operate a vehicle is to realize that I am the only sane 
>person on
>the road, and try to maintain a safe distance from all the idiots out there.
>After all the unsafe items you list, I wonder why you have a Corvair at 
>all, or
>do you just tow it around instead of having the joy of driving it.
>    As for being a libertarian, my understanding is that libertarians want
>less government. I will leave out my party affiliation, and simply state 
>that I
>don't need government to tell me I have to wear a belt in the car, nor do I
>need the government to tell me to wear a helmet when I am cruising on my 
>I further believe that anyone who doesn't use safety devices is a simple
>adjustment to the gene pool. Darn! I hate it when someone pushes that button.
>Openhabit (Gary Bull)
>and since this seems to impress some of you, here's the list:
>1964 sedan
>1964 convertible (two each)
>1969 Mustang
>1972 Super Beetle
>1981 Chevy 4X4
>1994 Jeep Cherokee
>1982 Harley FLH
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Eric S. Eberhard
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