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Weight-based Collision Fine

Scale the penalty based on disproportionate vehicle weights
 
(0)
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In collisions between cars (let's constrain this to 2-car collisions for simplicity), the heavier vehicle imparts more damage to the lighter vehicle (and its occupants) than the lighter vehicle does to the heavy one. This is obvious. And the greater the difference in weight, the greater the disparity in damage to the vehicles and people. I often hear SUV owners justify the big size of their vehicle by saying that they have greater (perceived) safety. However, this safety (whether or not it's real or perceived) comes at the expense of the safety of the person in the lighter car. To a degree, this is effectively saying "I care about the safety of me and mine, all others be damned." Whereas the owners of the small cars have effectively become a net "damage/injury-sink", imparting less damage than they receive.

My proposal is to scale the fines given to heavier vehicles at fault, based on the ratio of vehicle weights involved in the collision. If a 7688 lb Excursion collides with a 2387 lb Miata, and if the Excursion is fined, the fine should be increased by a factor of 7688/2387 = 3.2. (However, I am not advocating reducing the Miata's fine by 3.2, if it were at fault). If two Excursions are involved, then nothing is increased, since 7688/7688 = 1.

This might seem to be an Anti-SUV rant, and to a degree, well, it is. But I'm not targeting SUV's in particular. A Lincoln Town Car that weighs aprrox. the same as a Dodge Durango (300 lb. difference) would be penalized without prejudice if involved in a collision with a Mini Cooper, and by the same token, the aforementioned Excursion would be penalized for hitting either the Dodge Durango or the Town Car.

Note: I'm not proposing creating any new class of fines or penalties. If a jurisdiction deems the fine for a low-speed rear-end collision is $150, so be it. I just want that fine scaled by the ratio of the vehicle weights if the heavier car did the hitting.

Also note: Devil in the details - do we use GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight, the max weight the car can carry), Curb weight (the weight of the car sitting in your driveway with fluids, no people), an average of the two, ... ? Doesn't make too much difference. I don't suggest actually weighing the vehicle, or weighing all the occupants to get an exact weight. It's the effect I'm going after here, so going with curb weights is probably fine - they're printed on the label inside the driver-side door frame, so it's easy to write the ticket with those numbers.

Final note: Go easy on me. This is my first idea! =)

scottbb, Aug 26 2003

Ford Excursion http://www.edmunds....eftsidenav..8.Ford*
edmunds.com [scottbb, Oct 04 2004]

Mazda Miata http://www.edmunds....ftsidenav..8.Mazda*
edmunds.com [scottbb, Oct 04 2004]

Fatality risks in collisions bewteen cars and light trucks http://www-nrd.nhts...talityrisksscan.pdf
NHTSA site, PDF file [scottbb, Oct 04 2004]

Weight http://www.thepetce...m/imtop/catbig1.jpg
How much damage would this thing do? [DeathNinja, Oct 04 2004]

[link]






       It seems to me that this fine already exists. However it is collected not by the local government, but by the SUV owner's insurance company. It appears in the form of raised rates after being at fault in an accident.
krelnik, Aug 26 2003
  

       First of all, let me say: "I care about the safety of me and mine, all others be damned."   

       As a owner of both an SUV and a motorcycle, and having been hit from behind while operating each one, I would rather be in an accident while driving the SUV.   

       Hit from behind while stopped at a light on the motorcycle = bruised ribs, bruised thigh, sprained wrist and months of hell including a cort appearence to sue my insurance company for damages of about $1200 and lost work time. Damage to the Toyota Camry that hit me = none.   

       Hit from behind while stopped (in a parking lot) to eat a burger in the SUV = scratched bumper and broken tail light cover. Covered by my insurance company with only a 10 minute phone call. Damage to the Ford Escort that hit me = extensive.
ato_de, Aug 26 2003
  

       I agree with [krelnik], that the insurance companies most probably include the likely damage your car could create into factoring your rates. Liability on a Hummer would surely be more than on a Miata.
Zimmy, Aug 26 2003
  

       [alto_de] As the owner of a Miata, former owner of both a motorcycle and an SUV, I completely agree with you. If I had to be hit, but had the choice of receiving it in a Miata or bike vs. a SUV, I would pick an SUV any day and twice on Sunday. That's a no-brainer. And I'd like to believe that I'm the type of driver who never hits, I only *get hit*, and thus I am a non-offending SUV owner. But it's that sort of reasoning that justifies a car "arms race". Our society recognizes the idea that the more potent weapon or dangerous tool you wield, the more responsibility you take for the risk you expose others to.   

       Which brings me to...   

       [krelnik] d'oh. I missed the obvious. To the degree that insurance rates are based on your vehicle's relative potential damage to others, I agree with you, that it's baked.   

       Great, should I MFD my own idea?
scottbb, Aug 26 2003
  

       Certainly, or you can just delete it if you wish.
krelnik, Aug 27 2003
  

       Kinetic energy tracks the square of velocity, as well as mass. Perhaps total kinetic energy imparted to the other vehicle (note that this takes into account their relative directions of travel) should be the key measure. This should be fairly accurately inferrable by forensic analysis near the crash site.
n-pearson, Aug 27 2003
  
      
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