I’m not saying that it’s the weight IN AND OF ITSELF that causes the larger vehicle to be safer in a given crash situation (like hitting a tree, in this example). It’s ALL THE FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO MAKING IT A SAFER CAR (which I listed) that make it safer – and those things all CAUSE THE CAR TO BE HEAVIER. (Much sturdier passenger safety cage with more metal in it; longer front end, which entails more metal; bigger, longer, more spacious passenger compartment, which entails more metal . . . ). It’s not the weight itself that makes it safer – it’s all the things I mentioned – (which happen to make it weigh a lot) – which make it safer.
The bottom line remains:
You’re much better off hitting a tree at 45 mph in a Mercedes S600 than you are doing the same thing in a Mini Cooper.
And yes, or course, if the two were to hit each other, it’s a given, as you mentioned, that the person in the bigger car is better off.
No offense to you either, but you’re completely misunderstanding how the physics work in this particular situation. Assuming they hit the tree at at the same rate, traveling at a steady state of, say, 45 mph, the passengers in the Benz are far better off for a number of reasons, all of which contribute to that car being heavier, for better or worse:
More size (longer front end and larger passenger compartment in particular), which indeed provides a larger crumple zone which can absorb the impact, as well as more space in the interior of the car between passengers and the dashboard, or between rear seat passengers and the seat in front of them; more overall mass (steel etc.) in the frame, chassis and engine of the vehicle, which past a certain speed (beyond which the crumple zones have already done their job) prevents the passenger compartment from being crushed like it would be in the Mini; a stronger, stiffer, heavier “safety cage” around the passenger compartment than the Mini has, due in part to just a lot more metal being used to form it.
If you honestly mean to tell me that you’d rather be in a freaking MINI when you hit that tree at 45 mph versus a MERCEDES S600, then you, my friend, have serious judgement issues.
No, what I’m telling you is that size/weight does not necessarily equate to safety. Also, you are confusing a vehicle vs vehicle collision with vehicle vs stationary object (tree or concrete barrier). In a vehicle vs. vehicle collision, it will most likely be “safer” to be in the larger vehicle, largely because of its larger mass. It’s all about momentum. The heavier vehicle traveling at the same speed will have a lot more momentum than the smaller one and will transfer more force onto the smaller vehicle when they impact than the smaller vehicle will to the larger. Then you take in their safety ratios and force transfer ratings and you get an idea of how injured people might be.
When hitting a stationary object, it will LIKELY be safer to be in the smaller car, due to less force being involved in the collision. It is not necessarily so, due to different safety ratings in the vehicles. It also wouldn’t be so if the vehicle has much more kinetic energy than the potential energy of the thing it’s hitting. A semi could plow through a barrier and the driver would be alright whereas somebody in a civic might be fucked (assuming very high speeds).
Anyways, it’s silly to argue large vs small. I’ll take the vehicle with the best ratings. I used to own a Saab and I’d get another one. There’s a small, heavy car with wonderful safety ratings. It’s an engineering problem, not a size one. Same thing with fuel economy standards.
The really ironic thing is it’s always “safer” to be the person hitting someone else. Cars have the most safety features if they get hit in the front. Hence all the tragic accidents where somebody gets t-boned and killed by some careless (or maybe drunk) asshole, and the asshole doesn’t have a scratch.
You’re wrong about hitting the inanimate object. The bigger vehicle always wins, because of the greater amount of metal a stated previously. It’s bigger for a reason. The weight added isn’t just extra weight for it’s own sake, but greater reinforcing and so on.
As for the odds likely I’ll get hit by a smaller vehicle, you can’t use statistics for a general population and then use them for a sample size of me. It doesn’t work, since the amount of collisions I’ll have is hopefully no more.
The odds are 100% yes or no for me, not 75%, 22%, or so on.