I don’t remember how I first came across them but IIHS’ small overlap videos caught my attention.
You probably aren’t aware of IIHS if you live in the UK but they’re the America equivalent of Euro NCAP.
In their small overlap crash tests, the IIHS send cars at 40mph into a solid barrier. The car impacts the barrier with only a small percentage of its frontal area.
This is quite a brutal test but it has a purpose: a quarter of all road deaths are attributable to this type of crash.
So I thought about my three star Euro NCAP 2003 Fiesta and the hairy road I have to drive on to get out of this village and decided a more modern car was in order. In the end I bought something newer with a five star NCAP rating.
Question is: was it money well-spent?
Road deaths per billion kilometres (621,371,192.237 miles) travelled in the UK were 3.6 in 2013. I travel about 10,000 miles per year in my car. This means I have approximately a 1 in 17260.31 chance of being killed on the road each year (In an average car).
If my five star Euro NCAP car halves my risk of being killed versus the 2013 average (Generous estimate), I now have a 0.0029% chance of being killed in a year, versus a 0.0058% chance before the new car.
The new car cost me a fair chunk of my savings. Was it worth it, solely on the safety criteria? I think not but in our new risk-averse world, safety sells.
To Edinburgh on the M8 today. It’s not my favourite road. The last time I drove along it there was a storm and my wee car was getting blown about quite a bit. Then there was the road works, the lorries, the spray, the surface water. All in all not a great trip.
Today was better but still not great. You have two choices on the M8: the slow lane, where you trundle along at 45-55 mph sandwiched between lorries; or the “Fast” lane, where traffic goes a little bit faster but you find yourself being harassed by people in a more of a hurry than I usually am.
The M8 on a sunnier day.
My brother commutes on the M8 a few times a week (I used to do it myself) and it’s even less of a joy at rush hour. All it takes is a breakdown or a crash and your 90 minute commute becomes a three-hour headache.
A partial answer would be to add a third lane on each side. There’s work in progress at the moment where it looks like this is being done for at least parts of the whole. However adding the required lanes for the entire length of it would cost a huge amount.
As an occasional user, I would be happy to pay a toll to fund the third lanes. Commuters might have a different view as it would obviously be more expensive for them but on the other hand they would have a better road. This is one of the main transport routes in Scotland and it’s completely inadequate in its current state. I wonder when it’ll get better?