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Chris_V
Chris_V SuperDork
12/11/09 8:35 a.m.
billy3esq wrote:
NYG95GA wrote: My position is that if you are alert, and good behind the wheel, the chances of you're having an accident are far reduced, and the chances of your having an accident in a vehicle equipped with a bar reduces the statistical possibility to nearly zero.

The only problem with your theory is that the most likely accident scenario for noggin to rollbar contact is getting hit from the rear. That is almost always difficult or impossible to avoid, even for an alert, above-average driver in a well-sorted car.

That's just it. I wonder, from people who have had roll cages in their cars for years, if there's an ACTUAL trend towards more head injuries, or if it's merely a theoretical possibility. I mean, I've mitigated the three rear end accidents I've been in by paying attention and understanding what was about to happen and moving slightly to end up with nothing more than a slight scuff on the rear bumper.

But I've been talking with a few people that only deal in theory and say anyone in a street car with a cage in it is a darwin candidate who WILL have scrambled brains, and from what I can tell, there's actually very litle of that happening with people who have spent years in dual purpose street cars with cages (again, real cages, not fake show bars in Ricers). And not only dual purpose road race/street cars, but drag race/street cars/Pro Streeters. there have been tens of thousands of them over the years and I just don't see a rash of reports of head injuries in them.

So maybe NYG95GA's theory is closer to actual reality.

Damnit. I wish there was real stats on this.

keethrax
keethrax Reader
12/11/09 12:56 p.m.
Chris_V wrote: How hard is it to remain in the 97% of drivers that almost never get into accidents, thus rendering the question of what might happen to your head and a roll cage moot?

With no other idiots on the road. Easy. With them, at least substantially (but not entirely) beyond your control. Pretending that any amount of good driving on your part makes you safe enough to ignore what happens after you do get in an accident is stupid.

amg_rx7
amg_rx7 Reader
12/11/09 12:59 p.m.
keethrax wrote:
Chris_V wrote: How hard is it to remain in the 97% of drivers that almost never get into accidents, thus rendering the question of what might happen to your head and a roll cage moot?
With no other idiots on the road. Easy. With them, at least substantially (but not entirely) beyond your control. Pretending that any amount of good driving on your part makes you safe enough that what happens after you do get in an accident is stupid.

You could apply that argument to seatbelts too. The problem becomes what resulting damage occurs when the unexpected happens.

"E36 M3 happens"

Gearheadotaku
Gearheadotaku HalfDork
12/11/09 1:32 p.m.

With the number of cars on the street with a cage in comparision to the total number of cars out there, the number is so tiny, you'll never get good comparision. There are so many injuries, trying to sort it all out would be impossible. In the end for me, if my head can get anywhere near a cage part, it's not a good idea without proper padding and a helmet.

billy3esq
billy3esq Dork
12/11/09 6:55 p.m.
Chris_V wrote: Damnit. I wish there was real stats on this.

Gearheadotaku is right, the data set of street cars with rollbars is too small to make any meaningful conclusions.

Besides, statistics don't matter much if you're the one who ends up a vegetable.

In the absence of statistics, a reasonable thinker is forced to consider the worst-case scenario and take whatever steps they deem appropriate to avoid that. For me, that means no rollbars in street cars. YMMV.

Keith
Keith SuperDork
12/12/09 11:28 a.m.

Make a distinction between roll bars and roll cages. We've been talking about cages here, which put more bars in the car and usually have to be in closer proximity to the driver due to packaging - especially right by your head.

It's much easier to design a roll bar to provide good head clearance, as the seat is your friend and you're not required to squeeze a bar between the top of the window and the driver's brain. There are bars designed for street use that give up a bit of height in order to provide more clearance for rear-end collisions.

I've owned cars with both. If I didn't have dual-density padding on my caged Miata, I'd be able to give myself a solid whack on the melon easily. Hitting a good bump is enough to rock your head side to side (even if you're Super Driver TM) and that could get you seeing stars on an unpadded bar.

The roll bar equipped bars have never given me a moment's concern. I also know two fairly prominent Miata tuners who are still with us today thanks to roll bars on the street.

granny
granny New Reader
12/12/09 3:41 p.m.

For me... ...roll bar = still street car ...add a cage = now race car

I do have exceptions, such as where room allows a street safe cage w/o a helmet. I also feel that a car w/ a roll bar (or harness bar) should also have considerations for rear seat safety, such as maybe rear seat shoulder belts or better yet, elimination of the rear seat.

Ask anybody that's driven a street/drag car w/ a funnycar cage...without a helmet, a headache could strike at any moment!

Chris_V
Chris_V SuperDork
12/12/09 5:08 p.m.
keethrax wrote:
Chris_V wrote: How hard is it to remain in the 97% of drivers that almost never get into accidents, thus rendering the question of what might happen to your head and a roll cage moot?
With no other idiots on the road. Easy. With them, at least substantially (but not entirely) beyond your control. Pretending that any amount of good driving on your part makes you safe enough to ignore what happens after you do get in an accident is stupid.

Then how do some of us go for 3 plus decades on two coasts with nothing more than three minor scuffs? Paying attention to automotive physics and the cars around you is actually quite easy. If everyone out there is an idiot, how come only 3% per year get into accidents?

Chris_V
Chris_V SuperDork
12/12/09 5:12 p.m.
billy3esq wrote: Besides, statistics don't matter much if you're the one who ends up a vegetable. In the absence of statistics, a reasonable thinker is forced to consider the worst-case scenario and take whatever steps they deem appropriate to avoid that. For me, that means no rollbars in street cars. YMMV.

In that case, so is driving an MGB on the street. If all you go by is worst case scenarios, and avoid that, then we might as well all give up our classic sports cars and drive bubbles.

I'm trying to determine if it's ACTUALLY more dangerous than driving a classic sports car. From people who have been driving with cages for years, not from people only use theory to scare themselves into not doing it.

I had a cage in my V8 RX7 for 5 years of regular street driving and never bonked my head on it once in the car (yeah, I've bonked my head on it getting in and out, but I've done that on the low roofline of a low slung sports coupe, too..).

JeepinMatt
JeepinMatt Reader
12/12/09 5:19 p.m.

No one in three months has had anything to say about my Wrangler reference?

docwyte
docwyte Reader
12/12/09 5:39 p.m.

There's no way you should ever carry any passengers in the back seat of a car equipped with a rollbar.

JeepinMatt
JeepinMatt Reader
12/12/09 5:45 p.m.
docwyte wrote: There's no way you should ever carry any passengers in the back seat of a car equipped with a rollbar.

I can think of a few vehicles that offer them stock....

billy3esq
billy3esq Dork
12/12/09 5:49 p.m.
Chris_V wrote:
billy3esq wrote: In the absence of statistics, a reasonable thinker is forced to consider the worst-case scenario and take whatever steps they deem appropriate to avoid that. For me, that means no rollbars in street cars. YMMV.

In that case, so is driving an MGB on the street. If all you go by is worst case scenarios, and avoid that, then we might as well all give up our classic sports cars and drive bubbles.

I'm trying to determine if it's ACTUALLY more dangerous than driving a classic sports car. From people who have been driving with cages for years, not from people only use theory to scare themselves into not doing it.

  1. You only read half of what I said, and apparently didn't understand the half that you did read. I said people have to evaluate the risk, and take whatever measures they deem appropriate to avoid them. The decision to drive or not drive a convertible is different from the decision to drive around with a steel pipe a few inches from your head, which is different from every other risk/reward decision we make on a daily basis. I acknowledged that you may reach a different conclusion, which is perfectly fine. That doesn't make my opinion any less relevant, especially given that I'm actually applying logic to the limited information that is available and not just looking for an anecdote to support my pre-determined conclusion.

Moreover, my conclusion is certainly not because I'm scared, it just seems that in a street car, the bar is more likely to be a liability than an asset.

  1. I get that you want first had experience, but your narrow-minded approach (only acknowledging anecdotal evidence from people who've done it) misses the simple fact that people who do suffer severe head injuries aren't going to be posting here because they're either dead or incapacitated. To put it in pirate-speak: dead men tell no tales.

  2. You don't have to have first had experience to know whether something is a bad idea or not. Following your logic, it must be perfectly safe to drive around with a spike protruding from the top of the steering column because we don't know of anyone who's actually been seriously injured by one.

I personally don't give a rat's ass if you want to drive around with a full cage or the giant spike referenced above. I think it's a bad idea, which is why my street Miata doesn't have a roll bar (or a giant spike). I do, however, take offense to your attitude that anyone who hasn't been doing it should STFU.

amg_rx7
amg_rx7 Reader
12/12/09 6:31 p.m.
Keith wrote: Make a distinction between roll bars and roll cages. We've been talking about cages here, which put more bars in the car and usually have to be in closer proximity to the driver due to packaging - especially right by your head. It's much easier to design a roll bar to provide good head clearance, as the seat is your friend and you're not required to squeeze a bar between the top of the window and the driver's brain. There are bars designed for street use that give up a bit of height in order to provide more clearance for rear-end collisions. I've owned cars with both. If I didn't have dual-density padding on my caged Miata, I'd be able to give myself a solid whack on the melon easily. Hitting a good bump is enough to rock your head side to side (even if you're Super Driver TM) and that could get you seeing stars on an unpadded bar. The roll bar equipped bars have never given me a moment's concern. I also know two fairly prominent Miata tuners who are still with us today thanks to roll bars on the street.
Keith wrote: Make a distinction between roll bars and roll cages. We've been talking about cages here, which put more bars in the car and usually have to be in closer proximity to the driver due to packaging - especially right by your head.

Actually, we have been talking about both. I think up until this 3rd page, most of the discussion was about the roll bar.

My original question/request was regarding roll bars on a dual duty street/track car. Cage = race car and even less appropriate on a street car.

What my research has shown from analyzing what Porsche did with the Euro GT3 and from the links that I posted, it seems that the 'safest' way for a roll bar to be used in a street car is with the following added safety equipment:

  1. Bucket seat - so that the seat doesn't collapse and allow you body to make contact with the roll bar and break. Although the risk factor would probably very depending on the construction of the roll bar and location of the bars. I come to this conclusion based upon the 911 driver that went off at Lime Rock using a roll bar and street seats. he went off rear end first and when he hit the wall, the stock seat broke and he broke his back on the roll bar and died.

  2. Harnesses - so that you have less probability of moving around in an accident and hitting the bar. Watching some race track accidents on YouTube, its amazing just how far your head actually moves - even with a Hans and harnesses.

Billy has a point in saying that "people who do suffer severe head injuries aren't going to be posting here because they're either dead or incapacitated."

No one here seems to have any real facts as far as I can tell. These all seem like opinions but I am interested in hearing more about you comments in bold

Keith
Keith SuperDork
12/12/09 6:58 p.m.

Sorry, I didn't go back to reread the whole thing again. My bad.

My comments are - as always - based on Miatas. So rear seat access/usability is not really applicable

In the case of the Miata, there are two basic lines in the popular Hard Dog catalog. The Sport and the Hard Core. The Hard Core is the one that's intended for more track use. The tubing is thicker and the bar is taller by about 1.25". In order to get the taller bar to fit under the top, the hoop is moved forward a bit. This puts it closer to the occupants heads, to the extent of actually going over the seat if it's in the tall boy all-the-way-back position.

The Sport sits a bit lower and further back. This decreases the rollover protection but makes it much more difficult to accidentally suffer a head strike. In my case, I can't manage to put my head in contact with the bar without removing my head from my neck. The seat prevents me from reaching it. Personal geometry will have some affect here, but regardless of physiology the potential for hitting the bar is decreased substantially.

If you want to go further, there's the Ace. Too low to be too effective in my opinion, but there's no possible way to hit your head on the bar. It sits even further back than the Sport and thus has to be lower. Better than nothing, but I prefer the Sport for all-around protection.

So there's an example of street- and track-biased roll bars for one of the most popular applications. In both the Sport and Hard Core, I do recommend the formed SFI padding to go along with it. Makes the bar look better as a bonus, with a nicely fitted wrap.

While those who have suffered traumatic head injuries are not going to post here, we do get some feedback from our customers - even from their families post-mortem, unfortunately. I know three lives that were unquestionably saved by the street-biased Sport. I have never heard of anyone who has suffered any sort of damage from a rear end collision, but it is a popular hypothetical situation. My Miatas have rollbars. One has a cage.

billy3esq
billy3esq Dork
12/12/09 8:58 p.m.

AMG's got the right idea. If I were going to have a roll bar in a street car, I'd want a back-braced bucket and harnesses.

I once had a track Miata that I only drove on the street to get to and from the track. It had a regular HDHCSD and SFI padding on the main hoop with stock seats and belts. The part that bothered me most about it wasn't the main hoop, it was the diagonal, which was uncomfortably close to my right ear.

I'll agree that there are much more dangerous things one could do than put a roll bar in a street car. If I weren't in a position to own multiple sports cars, I'd likely put a bar in my Miata for track use. However, I'm more comfortable not having it given that my car is a semi-daily driver and never goes to the track. It wouldn't bug me much in a car that saw a lot fewer street miles.

As for being saved by a bar on the street, I don't doubt Keith's data, but I think it's much better not to invert a Miata to begin with. Note that this is something that is almost completely within the driver's control, as Chris has been arguing all along.

Trans_Maro
Trans_Maro HalfDork
12/13/09 12:37 a.m.
docwyte wrote: There's no way you should ever carry any passengers in the back seat of a car equipped with a rollbar.

Really?

Considering how many 4-Runners and CJ/YJ/TJ's have been sold you'd think they'd have a worse "ZOMG that's a rolling deathtrap" reputation by now.

Shawn

JeepinMatt
JeepinMatt Reader
12/13/09 12:58 a.m.
Trans_Maro wrote:
docwyte wrote: There's no way you should ever carry any passengers in the back seat of a car equipped with a rollbar.

Really?

Considering how many 4-Runners and CJ/YJ/TJ's have been sold you'd think they'd have a worse "ZOMG that's a rolling deathtrap" reputation by now.

Shawn

Damn. I had it typed, but hit X because I wanted to see if we'd reach page 4 before someone else said it

7pilot
7pilot New Reader
12/13/09 9:17 a.m.

In reply to JeepinMatt:

You're joking Matt. Despite being the owner/driver of both a 1/2 caged E30 M3(no back seat occupants) and 1/2 caged 7clone as streetable track rats, I'm going to be thinking "OMG! an unsafe caged yellow CJ!" when it is occupied by a single shirtless young male driver and 3 Nubile bikini'd females. It transcends this discussion.

m

Keith
Keith SuperDork
12/13/09 9:45 a.m.
billy3esq wrote: I once had a track Miata that I only drove on the street to get to and from the track. It had a regular HDHCSD and SFI padding on the main hoop with stock seats and belts. The part that bothered me most about it wasn't the main hoop, it was the diagonal, which was uncomfortably close to my right ear.

For those who don't grok the acronym, that's a Hard Dog Hard Core Single Diagonal roll bar in the Miata And an older one, I'd guess, with the diagonal in the main hoop. The diagonals are in the plane of the rear braces now, so the current design would be more reassuring if Billy had one.

'Tis true, the guys I know who were saved by the bar were involved in hoodlum-fuelled single vehicle accidents. I'm not going to say it's the only way to loop a Miata. In one case, the owner of the car was riding shotgun while a loose nut got behind the wheel of a fairly powerful turbo car - not a good situation, but an excellent time to have a bar

I've seen a concussion from a rollbar strike in a Wrangler now that I think about it. A YJ, I think, one of the ones with square headlights and no suspension movement to speak of. It was a fairly dramatic accident that ended up with a backwards trip off a 5' drop, and I have to say the occupants were very lucky not to have done themselves serious harm with that unpadded bar.

docwyte
docwyte Reader
12/13/09 10:30 a.m.

Big difference in how a rollbar in a wrangler sits vs say an autopower/kirk bar in a car.

In an accident there's no way a rear seat passenger wouldn't hit the main hoop in a car and that's just not a good thing.

JeepinMatt
JeepinMatt Reader
12/13/09 1:39 p.m.
docwyte wrote: Big difference in how a rollbar in a wrangler sits vs say an autopower/kirk bar in a car. In an accident there's no way a rear seat passenger wouldn't hit the main hoop in a car and that's just not a good thing.

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