Kind-of makes sense. If designed to stop fully-loaded semis (not pickups), there would not be guardrails. They would use earth berms. Dirt is cheap and reasonably available locally. Can’t see much scenery from a car as a result, but the tradeoffs would be worthwhile, provided the basic premise it was necessary to stop a fully-loaded truck.
A Tesla weighs about the same as a Ford F-150, of which there are a bazillion on the roads. Worse, the truck has a higher center of gravity so it is more likely to flip rather than be captured or redirected as a car would be.
I suspect there is no perfect guardrail that is right for everything, but I won’t be surprised to see them (somehow) strengthened or raised in height a couple inches going forward.
From the article:
Guardrails are intended to keep cars from careening off the road at critical areas, such as over bridges and waterways, near the edges of cliffs and ravines and over rocky terrain, where injury and death in an off-the-road crash are more likely. “Guardrails are kind of a safety feature of last resort,” Brooks said.
Center of gravity is very important. That’s one of the things that makes Tesla vehicles a little safer … a lower center of gravity. But the point is that over the last few decades, we swapped 50 million cars with 50 million trucks that are 1000+ pounds heavier than the cars they replace, and nobody mentioned any issues with guardrails. Now we have EVs that are maybe 200-500 pounds heavier (20-50% is utter nonsense) than a comparable ICE vehicle, and they’re suddenly making a big stink over it.
Even more interesting thought. No stink about the hazard SUVs and big trucks pose to everyone else: blocking the view of the driver in a conventional car, headlights not subject to the same height standard as cars, so car drivers are blinded by oncoming SUV headlights, bumpers not subject to the same height standard as cars, so the SUV bumper overrides a car bumper and does a lot of damage, plus the weight difference, so much more damage is done to the smaller, lighter, car. But the automakers make more profit on SUVs, so they convince “everyone” they want a huge SUV.
Automakers looked at Tesla’s GP and drooled, so they stampeaded to EVs to pocket that loot. Then the margins evaporated. Now, automakers want to run away from EVs.
The real story is that our current guard rails are designed for cars up to 5000 lbs. The University students threw an 8000 lb Rivian at a guardrail and - shocker - it failed. The same thing would probably happen if you used an F-350 dually.
Most current EVs are somewhat heavier than a comparable ICE. But that’s not the real issue.
The important takeaway is that as the weight of US vehicles has increased on average, road safety standards have not kept pace.
Anyone figure out the breakeven point between the cost of guardrails vs. the savings they provide? The acceptable point between no guardrails and total safety?
You can’t use a cost benefit analysis for “safety”. “Safety” is for the benefit of the insurance companies, in the form of reduced claims expense. But the insurance companies that realize the benefit of safety regs do not pay the compliance costs. Therefore the push for “safety” is infinite.
“Safety” is for the benefit of the insurance companies, in the form of reduced claims expense.
It is literally just the opposite of this. That’s because insurance companies are highly regulated and their profits almost always are roughly some percentage of claims paid. Reduced claims over the long term results in reduced profits. An insurance company with $100B in claims will have very roughly about twice as much profit as an insurance company with $50B in claims. If an insurance company has 100B in claims, and new safety features reduce their claims to 50B, their profit will follow (once the regulators set their new rate guidelines).
The same applies to the automakers and repair shops. They make plenty of money on repairs and parts used to repair vehicles after crashes. They have little interest in making big moves towards reducing crashes because it will substantially reduce their revenue and profit.
This is probably one of the reasons the v2v programs were repeatedly killed (endless delays is equivalent to killing it because of the very nature of how it would work) by the politicians. Enough “free speech” money flowed in from the interested parties (automakers, insurance companies, and to a lesser extent auto dealers with repair shops) to get them to kill it.
I’m kind of surprised that someone who knows the JC mind so well got bamboozled like this!
The facility has seen this problem before. In the 1990s, as more people began buying light-weight pickups and sport utility vehicles, the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility found that the then-50-year-old guardrail system was proving inadequate to handle their extra weight. So, it went about redesigning guardrails to adapt.
“At the time, lightweight pickups made up 10-to-15% of the vehicle fleet,” Stolle said. “Now, more than 50% of vehicles on the road are pickups and SUVs.”
I see different configurations, and ‘new’ installations of guardrails with ‘new’ designs fairly regularly.
I’m not too worried about this URGENT story. I’m confident the needed changes will be implemented with guardrail maintenance and new installations.