2010.09.01 Smart car, stupid man

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.

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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.web
    NICE WORK—A spider remains at the center of a web, awaiting visitors, during a moist morning last month. The was built in front of Eagle Funeral Home in Morenci.
  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
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    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
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    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
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    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.