"Safe" 4x4's are killers say Monash
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  1. #1
    1000+ Posts Rod Hagen's Avatar
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    "Safe" 4x4's are killers say Monash

    Interesting item in The Age today, reporting Monash research on the overall balance of death and injury associated with the growth in sales of 4x4's for suburban use:

    From the perspective of their occupants, four-wheel-drives help save lives. By buying a four-wheel-drive instead of a medium-sized car, your risk of death or serious injury in a crash falls by four in 1000.


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    Next, the Monash researchers looked at the damage that different types of vehicles inflicted on other road users. If you crash after trading in your medium-sized car for a four-wheel-drive, the chance that you will kill or badly injure the other driver increases by 11 in 1000.


    The net result? Four-wheel-drive buyers are making themselves safer, but the cost is being borne by other road users. For every serious injury or death that is saved by buying a four-wheel-drive, nearly three more result.
    You can find the whole story at <a href="http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/07/09/1057430271993.html" target="_blank">http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/07/09/1057430271993.html</a>

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    Rod
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  2. #2
    Gone Fishin' Ray Bell's Avatar
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    The answer's simple, isn't it?

    Put everyone into the big hulks, then they'll all be safe... right?

  3. #3
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    Aside from the weight issue (which is why I think you have to be careful with NCAP tests - a 4 star supermini won't fare as well as a 4 star SUV because of weight - it still surprises me how many people think star ratings are equivalent across classes), the other key issue is compatibility - an issue which all, bar one large 4WD model (which I drove yesterday and was very nice ), have ignored.

    SUVs are simply not designed to crash into cars - their impact point is much higher than your conventional car. Because of this, when a conventional car is hit by one, its safety systems are not properly activated because of the impact point (this is not to say that airbags, etc won't go off - rather the safety structures such as crumple zones cannot perform effectively because they haven't been hit at the correct impact point). Heaven help you if you were in an S2000 with a Landcruiser heading your way.

    Get rid of the tax advantages on 4WDs, there's no reason for it, given the purchase behaviour it encourages. In any case, there should be tougher design regulations - whilst you can't expect to have an SUV that weighs the same as a Clio, there is no reason why you cannot engineer design features for compatibility with conventional cars.

    Cheers,

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  4. #4
    1000+ Posts Rod Hagen's Avatar
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    It would be interesting to see what sort of "law of diminishing returns" operates here. What happens when two 4x4's run into each other?

    Its one of those interesting "altruism versus self interest" equation involved here. You can do something which, in the short term, may improve your survival chances (though it damages the chances of others) . But the more people who do it, the less effective it becomes as a strategy, to a point where ultimately it reduces the survival chances of all, yourself included.

    A nice Darwinian conundrum of the modern world!

    Cheers

    Rod
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    1000+ Posts n b j's Avatar
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    I think they should be banned in city and suburban streets and only people from the bush should use them. I used to live in rural NSW (Mudgee) and still own a farm there so I am very fond of our Hilux ute and Nissan patrol, but they should stay out there where they are usefull! And maybe if you own one in the city, you have to have like a sticker saying, you are from the bush and visiting the city... Maybe that's being way too hopefull.

    But seriously, just saying that everyone should buy a 4WD and all be in the same boat is so stupid!!! I mean how boring would it be on the road then! how depressing! Also I don't entirely agree, I feel 4WD's are unsafe for the ocupants, due to their high center of gravity, easy to roll and bad handling and when they do roll they crumple down far more then a lower to the ground car. You wouldn't stand a chance of survival if your average 4WD (not an X5 BMW or ML Merc or Porsche Cayane...but a "normal" 4WD) rolled! Goodluck to the occupants comming out alive, I have seen a shockily flatened Pajero that rolled at 90-100km/h once, no survivors at all.
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  6. #6
    1000+ Posts Rod Hagen's Avatar
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    Ray's tongue was very firmly in his cheek, nbj.

    There certainly are some circumstances where a big 4x4 is inherently less safe than a regular car, but overall there isn't much doubt that, in a world inhabited mainly by smaller vehicles, they are the "safest" vehicles around for the occupants. The equation changes, of course, when everyone is driving them.

    I did huge mileages in large 4x4's when I was up in the Territory in the 70's and 80's, and still do a few thousand K's in them each year - around 3,000 k's in a Patrol last week, in fact . The "mainstream" versions (Patrols, landcruisers etc) still clearly have inferior handling, responsiveness and stability when compared with a decent car. In urban situations they create a host of other hazards too - not just by virtue of their mass, but because of other factors like vision impairment for other drivers, the sense of invulnerability that their drivers often suffer from, etc etc.

    The trouble is , how do you meaningfully limit their use. As Justin says the sales tax concession really has to go, at least for urban use. But there are a lot of vulnerable electorates out in the bush and its hard to see the Pollies having the guts to take a real stand on the matter.

    Maybe they could introduce a registration impost in urban areas to make up the difference? But what about other people with legitimate urban use? Builders and the like, who probably really do need something substanial to shift their gear around? You'd need some sort of "exemption" system I guess.

    Pressure on the retailers and manufacturers to take a more responsible approach wouldn't go astray. Nor would a bit morepublic education.

    Cheers

    Rod
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  7. #7
    Gone Fishin' Ray Bell's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Rod Hagen
    <strong>Ray's tongue was very firmly in his cheek, nbj.....
    And so it was...

    I also agree with dropping the preferential government charges on these things.

    We really do need to limit their city use...

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    There should be a stupidity and ****** tax imposed on these leviathans (except for famrer etc that really need them).

    Better still - I would ban them from all cities, had I the power.

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    XTC
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    B E R E T:
    There should be a stupidity and ****** tax imposed on these leviathans (except for famrer etc that really need them).
    They should be paying MORE import duty and not less - plus an even greater premium on registration and such if you live in a metropolitain area. Those that live in rural areas should not be punished on the rego and such. 2_cents

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    1000+ Posts cruiserman's Avatar
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    Here we go again. I am the proud owner of a 92 intercooled turbo diesel Landcruiser. It has a multitude of scratches down the paint, from blackberries etc. I use it for its recreational capabilities. I like to take my family camping to remote places that normal cars cannot access. I train club drivers in the safe use of these vehicles, and drive with understanding of the direction change, and braking limitations of the vehicles. To say ban them from cities is ridiculus, how about banning track cars, from being daily drivers also. Unfortunately motor vehicles are expensive things to own, register, insure and maintain. Meaning that people who have vehicles for recreational purposes such as 4x4 (not mall cruising) and trackwork etc often have no choice but to use them as their daily driver. This subject keeps appearing in different guises on this board and there appear to be a bunch of self righteous head up their ass people who bag out owners of these types of vehicles without any knowledge of why they may have them. People choose and own vehicles for many reasons. Lets all ban any vehicle that is not purely utilitarian, hmm how about everybody drives a Toyota Corolla for instance. You can only have one car, it must be white. Too bad if you have more than 3 kids, or like to transport your kids friends. Probably time to stop bashing Four Wheel Drive vehicles, which by the way is what they are called in Australia not the American Sport Utility Vehicle. This is Aussiefrogs isnt it.
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  11. #11
    1000+ Posts Rod Hagen's Avatar
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    Its a hard one Neil, and there has to be some sort of "middle path" here. As I said earlier I use 4x4's a fair bit for work and I know they can be fun too. But, if, as the Monash stats suggest , you are roughly three times as likely to kill or seriously injure someone else if you have a collision with them then its hardly surprising if other drivers get a bit upset about their unnecessary use.

    The trouble is that as they "proliferate" for regular driving the problem becomes even more significant. This increases the pressure for total bans in cities etc.

    Seems to me that the people who might best be able to come up with some ways for limiting 4x4 lethality might be 4x4 drivers themselves!

    How would you approach it? What about tougher licence requirements?

    Cheers

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    1000+ Posts cruiserman's Avatar
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    You need a cams license to race, you should have a 4x4 license to drive them, particularly off road, where needless damage can occur from acts as simple as failing to adjust tyre pressure to maximise traction. Perhaps there should be a rice license also as a lot of owners of the cheap performance import think they are gods gift to driving. A one size fits all licence is fine if there are only white toyota corolla's on the road, thankfully this is not the case. The ban them rent a crowd that proliferate these topics are the one's that annoy me, perhaps we should give the local car industry a go and ban all imported cars, nothing but crummydores dent magnets and foulcans on our roads.
    Neil
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  13. #13
    1000+ Posts Rod Hagen's Avatar
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    Yep, I reckon a 4x4 licence is the way to go (as well as getting rid of the sales tax "discount').

    A special licence would deter a lot of people from driving them as simply another "family car", but it wouldn't seriously penalise people who need them for the real stuff, or are enthusiastic enough to use them for recreational purposes. No need for an additional 'annual fee", but having to pass a special test and maybe pay a once off adminstration fee would make them less appealing to many people who only really use them for ciommuting.

    The current drivers licence test teaches you nothing about driving a large 4x4 (I'm not counting the myriad of RAV's and Foresters amd Liberty's etc here. Its the big ones that matter)

    Maybe a test for anything with a certain gross weight, and 4x4 with low range would do the job?

    Cheers

    Rod
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    I could almost bear the 10% tax discount that 4x4's get, although I'd prefer that it was something that you could claim on a tax return. That way those who were intended to get the discount are the only ones who get it.

    What really gets my goat, is Kennett's abolition of the 4x4 $40 surcharge on the annual metro registration. If anything it should be double in metropolitan areas, unless it's a business vehicle.

    These hulks are replacing station wagons. They consume more fuel, therefore driving up demand for a finite supply, ultimately resulting in higher fuel prices for the population at large. If indeed they do cause more fatalities, then this drives up our TAC premiums, not to mention indirectly causing state health costs to be higher then absolutely neccessary.

    I think it's too high a price to pay for what essentially is a fetish.

    However, I do kind of dig the Scenic RX4's

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    This was an interesting thread as just last night I was querying the strong American media attack on the safety record of Sport Utility Vehicles on US Roads. My American friend with whom we are currently visiting, pointed out that SUV's have a bad reputation here as unstable vehicles, whereas I pointed out that in Australia, Four x Four vehicles are touted as much safer vehicles for families to drive and enjoy. Also,that many of our women drivers feel safer driving these in the Metropolitan area and never ever intend to go "Off the Road" with them.

    I personally dislike them, particularly if you are just behind one, due to their bulk obscuring my view of the road ahead, as well as, the tendency of those drivers to barge out from side roads, which was something that I noticed when driving on English roads. In that country, most women driving them come out of side lanes at speed and if you value your life you just get out of their road!!

    Sadly 4x4's (drivers) rate just about the same level as white van drivers (They have the worst reputation) on English roads, and sad to say many white vans are Renault's followed by Mercedes vans as the worst offenders. All of which, coping with overgrown signs, poor signposting and loss of any sense of direction due to multiplicity of roundabouts makes driving a real nightmare in the UK. Not to mention the stupid speed camera siting. O'h well I still enjoyed the countryside, even if we could not stop anywhere because some clown has painted every road in the UK with double yellow lines...

    Just my two penneth worth!! :p

    Ken

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    Gone Fishin' Ray Bell's Avatar
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    qvik:
    .....These hulks are replacing station wagons.....
    Not so...

    Usually the problem ones are replacing ordinary sedans, often small sedans, sometimes expensive sedans.

    Let's face it, the real problem is the mother's club set, the women who choose a 4WD because of perceived safety as they drive their children about.

    All those things about visibility, lack of grip etc are all true, combined with the longer braking distances they enjoy... they need a bit more intellect at the wheel than Neil's archetypical white Corolla... and these ones generally don't get it.

    I think 'fetish' is a good word...

    Neil's right, there are those who need them. Some much less than they think, of course (how many carpenters do you know who regularly have to access building sites with no access? If you can think of some, then ask yourself how the timber got there before they arrived...), but today's caravans, for instance, are so heavy that the need a heavier tow vehicle. Some, like Neil, derive pleasure in getting off the beaten track. While I've never been anywhere a 404 wouldn't get me, I accept that there are such places and they have some attraction...

    But the mother's club set... they shouldn't be allowed to have them, tax or no tax!

  17. #17
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    The heavier a 4X4 is, the heavier the recovery gear you need when you do get them stuck.

    I shudder to think what it would be like trying to get a 2500kg Chevy Suburban out of a bog hole or a big ditch. On the other hand a 900kg Suzuki Swift or a 600kg Haflinger is pretty easy to unstick with nothing more than a handwinch and a high lift jack. I think a 1000kg Subaru from the 1980s, with bigger tyres and a slight raise is a nice compromise. They're easy on fuel, easy to get unstuck and they drive like a small car rather than a truck. They don't bounce around like a little Suzuki or a Haflinger either.

    For me though nothing beats a 404/504/505 with a mountain bike in the boot. The Pug can travel the better graded 4X4 tracks in much greater comfort than any 4X4 and when it gets to the REALLY rough tracks the mountain bike goes places a 4X4 can't. The fact that it's impossible to get a mountain bike stuck or to run out of fuel is a big bonus too. Being able to hear the animals as you ride along is nice also.

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  18. #18
    1000+ Posts Rod Hagen's Avatar
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    davemcbean:
    e around like a little Suzuki or a Haflinger either.

    For me though nothing beats a 404/504/505 with a mountain bike in the boot. The Pug can travel the better graded 4X4 tracks in much greater comfort than any 4X4 and when it gets to the REALLY rough tracks the mountain bike goes places a 4X4 can't. The fact that it's impossible to get a mountain bike stuck or to run out of fuel is a big bonus too. Being able to hear the animals as you ride along is nice also.

    Dave
    I'm with you all the way , Dave, at least for recreational use. The 403 did a mighty fine job at this sort of stuff too. (I'd probably pick a wagon if it was going to be a 504 or 505 though - a bit more clearance and a rear suspension that is as tough as old boots.)

    Cheers

    Rod
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  19. #19
    sjl
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    I just think they suck.
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  20. #20
    1000+ Posts silverexec's Avatar
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    davemcbean:
    For me though nothing beats a 404/504/505 with a mountain bike in the boot.
    How did you get it to fit? I tried squeezing my mountain bike in the boot and no matter which way I turned it, it would not fit.

    Mind you, my rear tyre is not of the "quick-release" type so I guess this was the problem...

    I ended up using those elastic tie-down things to keep the boot shut.

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  21. #21
    1000+ Posts PeterT's Avatar
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    Get a firmer grip on it guys. Just 'cause you don't have one, doesn't mean you have to bag them. Have you had a look at the new rego figures lately? I tow my 205 race car with one, and wouldn't do it with anything else.

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  22. #22
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    silverexec:
    davemcbean:
    For me though nothing beats a 404/504/505 with a mountain bike in the boot.
    How did you get it to fit? I tried squeezing my mountain bike in the boot and no matter which way I turned it, it would not fit.

    Mind you, my rear tyre is not of the "quick-release" type so I guess this was the problem...
    Yeah, you need to take off both wheels. I rest mine with the rear triangle in first under the right side of the parcel shelf. The left handle bar grip then rests just near the left taillight. The tightest bit is where the suspension forks sit on top of the left wheelarch. You have to sit the bike just right otherwise the bootlid gas strut hits the forks and pops off as you close the boot.

    Dave
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  23. #23
    Gone Fishin' Ray Bell's Avatar
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    PeterT:
    Get a firmer grip on it guys. Just 'cause you don't have one, doesn't mean you have to bag them. Have you had a look at the new rego figures lately? I tow my 205 race car with one, and wouldn't do it with anything else.
    Owen Wuillemin tows his with a 504 ute... perfect for the job.

  24. #24
    1000+ Posts PeterT's Avatar
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    Only on the short trips Ray. They use Adrian's Commodore for the longer trips.

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    Gone Fishin' Ray Bell's Avatar
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    Perhaps... but especially now the ute's turbocharged I think it will see more use.

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