Q: We’ve had some horrible car-wreck fatalities lately, and in every case the driver survived and the passengers did not. I’m wondering if all the extra airbags and things that are on the driver’s side now are the reason more passengers than drivers die in car wrecks these days.
A: Additional safety devices and improved construction are, indeed, probably saving lives. That said, you’re making an inaccurate assumption. In fact, considerably more drivers than passengers die in car crashes.
In 2011, the last year for which complete figures are available, 16,430 drivers and 5,953 passengers died in vehicle wrecks in the U.S., according to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) Encyclopedia, which has tracked various aspects of vehicle related deaths in the United States for many years.
There are a few reasons why more drivers than passengers are killed in car crashes each year, not least of which is that in many wrecks the driver is the only person in the vehicle.
You can find more details about factors relating to traffic fatalities, including those relating to pedestrians, bikes and motorcycles, from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx
Q: Over the winter, I damaged a large piece of my car door’s weather stripping when I opened the door and it stuck to the rubber. Had to have the strip replaced. Where I live there are extremes in temperature that weaken the rubber fact, I think. What do you suggest to keep this from happening again?
A: At least four times a year you should wipe a rubber protectant (find one at car supply stores; Armor-All has a good one and there are others) on the door’s weatherstripping. Do the same on the window weatherstripping, too, as problems will develop there as well.
Be careful about just deciding to use something that looks like a decent lubricant rather than a product specifically for the job. Anything with an oil base will make the rubber very unhappy.
Also, if for any reason the stripping gets dirty – muddy dogs rub up against it while entering the car, kids explode a bottle of pop while the door is open, clean it quickly with the same product.
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