Sunday, May 6, 2012

New car, supposedly very safe turns out to be dangerous

We got a new car. Our previous car was humble, reliable, no-frills, comfortable, but ultimately too small for a growing family.


The new car is the most basic model of a 2012 SUV class family car. We bought it for the size of the luggage compartment, the general reliability of the cars of that make, the high security ranking given by NCAP, the 4 wheel drive so we don't have to worry (much) about getting stuck in snow, and the petrol engine. (Somehow most 4WD cars in Norway have diesel engines. And there seems to he very high risk connected with getting a diesel right now as that particular kind of fuel might be hit by new taxes to make it more expensive than petrol. And also diesel powered cars have higher fault rates than petrol powered cars.)

I spent some time with the instruction manual. It has hundreds of pages just for the displays in the dashboard. Since people ridicule me for reading instruction manuals I can only conclude that most people don't know what their car's computer can do. Not that it is very exiting. But people must not be using or even paying anything for that.

The manual was in quite good Norwegian (nowhere near flawless, even to someone dyslexic like me, but nothing like the bad examples of engrish seen around the net. Luckily I trust the makes engineers more than their translation and documentation service. It also repeated everything a lot. I think they almost managed to make it into easy reading material for those less used to reading that someone that attended college.

The most important take-away from manual though, came from the hundreds of pages about the security of the vehicle. Air bags: they're dangerous! Don't fall asleep leaning towards the door! If the side air-bags or the curtain air bags that sit in the ceiling over the windows deploy your head will be literally smashed. From at least two sides. Seriously. I was especially impressed by the repeated insistence that people sit as far away from the air bags as possible. They are clearly dangerous. I really hope that statistics show that people are safer with them than without them. I'm not sure. I wonder if I can get all of them disabled. I'd feel safer for me and my wife - at least the kids sit in seats that will keep them safely away from the air bags. I guess.

Or it could be that the wording was intended to make it clear to U.S. users that the air bags may or may not save you, and may or may not kill you while doing so. So as not to make the makers liable for any outcome what so ever.

It could be that the air bags are good then, and U.S. lawyers are bad.

When I was little I climbed around in the back as I wanted. At speed. I never felt unsafe in any way.

Oh the angst of modern living.