One of the things I've been thinking about recently is the question: "Are race cars safer in most crashes for the occupants than road cars?"
Now, I know a good portion of the safety in a race car comes from the roll cage, harness and Hans Device. But at the same time, with less mass (which may be a good thing?) no airbags, and less area devoted toward reducing the impact of the crash, in the same sort of deadly road crash would a race car make the occupants survive?
Let's consider three scenarios, and three cars. Our three scenarios are:
1. Head-on collision at 60mph.
2. T-Bone (driver's side) at 45mph.
3. Crash into strong, stationary, object (such as a concrete building) at 30mph.
(bonus scenario: Rollover down a hill?)
In all of these cases, serious injury or death is very likely for a road car, and are common to get into. Now the three cars to test:
1. WRC Car with Full Steel Rollcage, Harness, helmet, and Hans Device. Side-impact zones. 2 Occupants. No other safety equipment.
2. Extremely "safe" 4-door hatch. 10+ airbags, about 3000-3200 lbs, front wheel drive with a 4 cylinder engine, ABS. Priced around 20-30k. 2 Occupants, no other safety equipment.
3. Normal road car with full steel rollcage (but keeps all 4 seats) hardness, and 5-7 airbags, 5mph crash bumpers, 3300-3500lbs. Otherwise stock. Basically, a normal sedan that has been given a roll cage and harness. Occupants are not wearing Hans Devices or Helmets however, as it is being driven on the street.
Which car do you think will give the least injury to the occupants in all three scenarios?
The ultimate question to answer here is: does adding aftermarket safety cages or equipment actually make a road car safer, rather than just driving a heavier/bigger car? Which is more important, the car's weight and equipment, or the roll cage, helmet and Hans device?