2010.09.01 Smart car, stupid man

Written by David Green.

Smart car,

stupid man

By DAVID GREEN

When my wife and I were returning from the north country a couple of weekends ago, we were passed by a Smart car.

Passed!

Colleen said something about how nuts it was to see this little thing about a quarter the size of our vehicle zipping past us. She was thinking in terms of the danger of driving one of those little things that fast.

I was thinking how nuts it was that they could go that fast. I had a false impression that they were “city cars” and couldn’t go anywhere close to 75 miles an hour. How wrong I was.

The standard Smart car has an electronically-limited top speed of 90 mph., so there’s a little bit to spare.

But is it safe? Getting into a Smart car is described as putting on a suit of armor. You’re entering a steel cage with surprisingly good safety ratings.

There’s an interesting YouTube video of a Smart car running into a concrete wall, just to see what would happen. The cage worked quite well, although the commentator mentions that any people in the vehicle probably wouldn’t have survived the impact. I wonder how passengers fare in other vehicles when hitting concrete at 70 mph?

I read a report of a man walking away from his crashed Smart car after a highway accident. I’ve seen a photo that allegedly shows a Smart car crushed betwixt two trucks. Smart car owners quickly responded by pointing out that it obviously wasn’t a Smart car if you look closely at the little bit of car showing.

Here’s a quote from a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:

All things being equal in safety, bigger and heavier is always better. But among the smallest cars, the engineers of the Smart did their homework and designed a high level of safety into a very small package.

OK, bigger and heavier is better, but consider the Smart car vs. riding on a motorcycle at 75 mph.

The standard model sells for $11,990, and that’s with manual window controls. For $2,000 more, it’s pretty much equipped with everything you might want.

Those two women heading back to Indiana were getting about 40 miles per gallon when they passed us. Well, maybe not at that speed, but I won’t even mention what we were getting.

By the way, I read there might be a problem with wind out on the open road, but as writer Patricia Marx points out, in a collision with a disabled kite, the Smart is sure to win.

– 0 –

When perusing old issues of the Observer for Morenci Through the Decades tidbits, I noticed a column from 1990 about spitting.

Spitting was on my mind that day because I had watched a friend of Ben’s spit up into the air, then try to move out of the way before it came back down. He failed; it got him right in the eye and on the forehead.

I wondered if it were really possible to accomplish, but I wanted to design a safe research project—safe from my vantage point.

Ben was first. He had trouble at the beginning of the study. He was getting a forward arc to the spit and running into it. He soon learned through experience, tilted his head back perpendicular, spit and moved. Like any healthy second grader, I suppose, he could clear it.

For a four-year-old it was a different matter. I don’t think Rosanna had sufficient coordination yet and she was getting rather damp when I called off the research.

Actually I didn’t call it off completely. I needed to know if a middle-aged man in relatively good condition could perform this act.

I went into the back yard, looked around for any neighbors in view, spit and got out of the way.

It’s now 20 years later. I’m more than middle aged, I’m not in the same physical condition, but I’m still curious and maybe still a little stupid.

This time I don’t trust the back yard as my research platform. I’m going into the privacy of my garage to see if I still have what it takes.

I’ll be right back.

I don’t know what I was worried about. It was easy. I even repeated the experiment three times with different methods of spitting.

What we do for science.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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