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Working Hypothesis 1

Constructing dedicated roadways for different classes of vehicles would greatly decrease the fatality rate of accidents by keeping both vehicles in the accident relatively the same size.

Working Hypothesis 2

Forcing all vehicles on the road to be of equal size would greatly decrease the fatality rate of accidents by keeping both vehicles in the accident relatively the same size.

Content Descriptions

-Relationship between car size and fatality rate
-Mismatched car sizes in accidents
-Vehicle weight enforcement
-Other factors of accidents

Purposeful Summaries of 5 Sources

  1.  Large and Small Cars in Real-World Crashes -Patterns of Use, Collision Types and Injury Outcomes

Thomas, P., & Frampton, R. (1999). Large and Small Cars in Real-World Crashes -Patterns of Use, Collision Types and Injury Outcomes. Annual Proceedings / Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, 43, 101–118.

From the many analyses of real world crash data, there is an obvious connection that can be made between the fatality rate of a motor vehicle accident and the size of the vehicles involved in said accident. According to Pete Thomas and Richard Frampton in their article, Large and Small Cars in Real-World Crashes, based on US data, it was found that there is a twofold increase in the fatality risk from a car crash when a car’s mass was reduced from 1600kg to 900kg. A similar study conducted in Sweden supports this finding. The Swedish study found that drivers of 800kg vehicles were twice as likely to be injured as drivers of 1400kg vehicles. From all of the studies conducted on this topic, we can see that there are multiple other factors that play a part in the fatality rate of a car crash. But, throughout all these studies, it remains consistent that the mass of a car is a key factor that determines the injury outcome of an accident.

  1. Crash compatibility between cars and light trucks: Benefits of lowering front-end energy-absorbing structure in SUVs and pickups

Baker, B., Nolan, J., O’Neill, B., & Genetos, A. (2007, May 22). Crash compatibility between cars and light trucks: Benefits of lowering front-end energy-absorbing structure in SUVs and pickups. Retrieved September 28, 2020, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0001457507000796

During a head on collision, vehicles are designed to absorb the energy from the crash by allowing the energy-absorbing structures in the front of the car to deform and crush. This system of energy-absorbing structures is not effective in all cases though. Bryan Baker points that out when he claims “In collisions between cars and light trucks (i.e., pickups and SUVs), however, the capacity of energy-absorption structures may not be fully utilized because mismatches often exist between the heights of these structures in the colliding vehicles.” He makes this claim in his article, “Crash compatibility between cars and light trucks: Benefits of lowering front-end energy-absorbing structure in SUVs and pickups.” This helps show how different sized vehicles do not match well in car accidents which leads to greater fatality rates.

  1. Relationship of Vehicle Weight to Fatality and Injury Risk in Model Year 1985-93 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks

Kahane, C. (1997, January 1). Relationship Between Vehicle Size and Fatality Risk in Model Year 1985-93 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks [PDF]. United States. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In the report written by C.J. Kahane, titled “Relationship Between Vehicle Size and Fatality Risk in Model Year 1985-93 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks”, Kahane states that there are various intuitive reasons why heavier vehicles can be automatically expected to have different fatality risk than other vehicles. Among the factors that have a direct relationship to the weight/size of the vehicle, the most well known is that heavier vehicles have greater momentum. This means that when a big vehicle and a small vehicle collide while traveling at the same speed, the bigger one keeps moving forwards, crushing the front of the smaller one further, causing serious harm to the smaller vehicle and it’s passengers. 

  1. Reducing Vehicle Weight and Improving U.S. Energy Efficiency Using Integrated Computational Materials Engineering

O. Pinkus, D., A. Bandivadekar, K., M.. Goede, M., J. Allison, M., G. Leyson, W., P. Krajewski, L., . . . A. Saeed-Akbari, L. (1970, January 01). Reducing Vehicle Weight and Improving U.S. Energy Efficiency Using Integrated Computational Materials Engineering. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11837-012-0424-z

This article titled “Reducing Vehicle Weight and Improving U.S. Energy Efficiency Using Integrated Computational Materials Engineering”, by William Joost, provides information that helps support my thesis of forcing all cars to be of equal size. The idea of forcing all cars to be the same size brings up many questions but one in particular is how big will the forced car size be? Many people would agree that forcing all cars to be big would be the better choice as my other sources pointed out that bigger cars are generally safer. The more environmentally conscious people would point out the fact that bigger cars are less efficient than smaller cars therefore making all cars bigger would increase the amount of CO2 emissions which would not slide with the current state of the environment. That’s where this article comes into play, it talks about how cars can be kept small but still as resilient in a crash as larger ones. By using AHSS, advanced high strength steels, cars can be significantly more crash resistant while maintaining lighter weights than larger cars like trucks or SUVs.

  1. Effectiveness of vehicle weight enforcement in a developing country using weigh-in-motion sorting system considering vehicle by-pass and enforcement capability

Karim, M., Ibrahim, N., Saifizul, A., & Yamanaka, H. (2013, July 04). Effectiveness of vehicle weight enforcement in a developing country using weigh-in-motion sorting system considering vehicle by-pass and enforcement capability. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0386111213000174

Enforcing the size of all vehicles would be an arduous task, but a good place to start is by looking at previous cases in history of some form of vehicle size enforcement. One such case is of vehicle weight enforcement in Malaysia. Greater vehicle weight, as stated in the previous summaries, is one of the main aspects of a vehicle’s size that contributes to higher fatality rates. In Malaysia, vehicle overloading was a big issue so a system was put in place to enforce vehicle weights. This system was called the WIM system and used in pavement sensors to determine vehicle weights and notify authorities when vehicles were overweight. The system proved effective in helping to reduce overloading which goes to show that enforcing vehicle weights can be possible.

Current State of the Research Paper

After doing research on my original Working Hypothesis 1, Constructing dedicated roadways for different classes of vehicles would greatly decrease the fatality rate of accidents by keeping both vehicles in the accident relatively the same size, I found that my hypothesis was a little to outlandish and couldn’t find many related articles. When digging through the limited sources that I did find, I found that the articles provided information for a much easier, but still not widely discussed,  hypothesis. That is how I came to my Working Hypothesis 2: Forcing all vehicles on the road to be of equal size would greatly decrease the fatality rate of accidents by keeping both vehicles in the accident relatively the same size. I now feel much more confident in researching and formulating a solid thesis from this new hypothesis.

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