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We're wondering about this because we're probably getting a Corolla for one of the younger ones (sorry, Honda :donno: if it was for me it would be a Civic ), and if you want ABS, you have to go up to a higher category altogether.

We've been batting this around and it seems people's opinions vary a lot, depending mainly on what they're used to, and we realize we don't really know.
I swear by it. Somewhere along the line I got the idea that it was extremely important -- maybe because I had one scary accident a long time ago (nobody got hurt but they could have) which I've thought maybe wouldn't have happened if I had ABS (it didn't exist yet). Also, I've noticed that publications like Consumer Reports have placed extremely great emphasis on it ever since it first came out, and it made instant sense to me.

Off the subj, but we're also finding some difference of opinion about side air bags, me being the one who doesn't think they matter that much, maybe because I've never been in that kind of accident. And besides we always see stuff about how seat belts are more important than air bags anyway.

So, whaddya all think, how important is ABS?
 

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So, whaddya all think, how important is ABS?
The first time you have to slam on the brakes and not have your steering wheel lock up is the time YOU will know how important ABS is.
 

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I agree about the importance of ABS. Regarding side airbags, In my opinion they are absolutely vital, especially if they have head protection as part of it. Think about being T-boned by a large pick-up truck going through a red light. This exact scenerio happened to a co-worker of mine just outside of where we work. She is alive and still working today because her car, while totaled in the accident, had head protection in the side airbags and protected her head from the pickup truck's front end. The combination of side airbags and curtain head protection that the TSX has is about the best combination. I would not buy a car today without this type of protection.

Below is a link to IIHS about their research on this subject:

http://www.hwysafety.org/news_releases/2003/pr082603.htm
 

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Theoretically, a skilled driver can match or slightly outperform ABS. However, in the real world with less than ideal conditions, I reckon ABS will be superior much of the time. Driver fatigue, distraction, not reading the road surface correctly, weather, stress of an impending collision, etc. means that driver performance is likely to be less than optimal. Also, not worrying about modulating the brakes means more mental facilities for assessing the situation, considering escape routes, etc.

It p|sses me off that Honda and Toyota leave ABS off their base models. It's been on the market for almost 20 years and the technology has matured to the point where they should be considered a core safety feature like seatbeats and crumple zones. GM may do many things wrong, but they got it right when they made ABS standard across the board 10 years ago.

Seat belts are more important than airbags - in fact, airbags are designed to work with restrained occupants. However, the combination of the two is probably safest in serious accidents. In minor accidents, airbags can cause injury that might not have happened had they not deployed.

During last summer's blackout, my boss was T-boned in an intersection w/o working stoplights. The van was rolled 90 deg. but since everyone had their seatbelts on, the only injury she suffered was a bruised arm when the side airbag went off next to her elbow. However, every accident is different and YMMV.
 

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Indeed, airbags are designed to work in conjunction with seatbelts. That's why they are called "supplemental" restraints. As pickups and SUVs get more gigantic, their front ends are about at the level of the side windows of most passenger cars. In the case of my co-worker, this is exactly what happend with a large pickup going about 40 mph and hitting her directly in her door. The paramedics on the scene told me that in almost all other similar accidents, where there is no head airbag deployed, the driver is either severly injured or is dead at the scene. Yes, I know that an exploding airbag can cause minor injuries, but I think the added protection from a side airbag with head protection is well worth that risk.
 

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Toyota Corolla is indeed a great car but I'm honestly sick and tired of Toyota's infamous actics of charging you for every little feature. It's true that airbags, ABS, power windows, power locks, etc were considered luxury before. . . but that was in the 90's.

ABS and Side Airbags are a must for me. Curtain airbags certainly would be nice but not a deal breaker.

Speaking of seatbelts, on my way to work recently, there was a huge traffic jam after a van blew a tire, crossed the median, flipped few times, and landed on the middle lane of the opposing traffic. Although the structural integrity of the van held up, the driver was not wearing a seatbelt and was tossed out of the van and was rolled overed by his own van. He died at the hospital and I later found out that he was the husband of one of the employees at my work place.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks much for the great replies. My wife read through them (since the car would be for her daughter), and she was blown away by how on-target they are, and by the great link from DSM about side air bags. Indeed, as Kite said, "YMMV" :D but I think we've decided the car has to have both ABS and the side air bags. (On the Corolla LE it seems you have to get them together, or not at all.)

Thanks again -- just awesome.
 

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You "can" beat ABS because when I took the Skip Barber course a few years ago we learned how to do it. In fact the very "hot" cars like the Viper only acquired ABS a few years ago, and I'm pretty sure most racing cars don't have ABS. Do I think I can beat ABS under normal driving conditions, say listening to Bloomberg with a coffee mug in my hand? Do I think the average teen can? No.

Of course the ABS in the Corolla will do you absolutely no good if that Ford Excursion or Humvee with Soccer Mom (or Nascar Dad) on her (his) cell phone doesn't notice you. So as nice and safe as ABS is, I'd go for MASS before I'd go for ABS. One of my daughter's former HS classmates died a couple of months ago when she aquaplaned her Jetta right into a light pole. I'm pretty sure it had ABS, airbags and all the "right stuff". Except for mass.

You can look up actual claims (both fatalities and injuries) by make and model going back quite a few years at the IIHS website HERE. Volvos tend to do pretty well, although I'm unsure it's not in part the kind of people who buy Volvos. The old Volvo 240 is the cliche' answer for a new driver, Click and Clack of NPR Car Talk fame reflexively mention it. The most airbags a 240 ever had was one and ABS was only standard the last year they were built, 1993. It remains as socially acceptable a vehicle at my daughter's liberal arts college as her Birkenstocks.

:rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter #9
bob shiftright said:
.....I'd go for MASS before I'd go for ABS.....
Would you believe I actually had to think about what that meant.
"ABS" I know, of course.
But "MASS"? I assumed that was some acronym -- and I just gave up! Fortunately a couple of sentences later you said the word again. :ikno:
 

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"Mass"? Back to Physics 101! And size REALLY DOES matter!

larchmont said:
Would you believe I actually had to think about what that meant.
"ABS" I know, of course.
But "MASS"? I assumed that was some acronym -- and I just gave up! Fortunately a couple of sentences later you said the word again. :ikno:
If you go tho the IIHS website you can find the injury claims results for real cars in the real world going back to about the 1989 model year.

Injuries are a better way to evaluate car model safety because injuries occur much more frequently than deaths which, to simplify things, just result from very severe injuries.

Among recent models the Honda Civic generates 125% of the average car's injury claims, the Toyota Corolla 148%. (100% is average. The lower the number the better.) The Volvo S70 rates 79% and the newer S60 is 64%. If you go up in size the Crown Victoria favored by the NYPD it's 59%. The massive Ford Excursion generates 39% and the simply large GMC Yukon 38%. Way at the bottom the the Kia Rio is 206% and the Suzuki Esteem 239%. So if you buy a Suzuki Esteem for your daughter, her chances of injury are SIX TIMES as high as driving an Excursion. Driving a Honda Civic they are OVER THREE TIMES as high as driving the Excursion.

The relationship goes back as far as the results are available. For 1989-1991 cars, the Crown Vic was 63%, the 740 Volvo Sedan was 89%/wagon 47%, and the Volvo 244 sedan 93%/wagon 74%. The old Civic was 127% and old Corolla 129%.

Insurance industry people can ALSO tell you one other interesting little factoid and that is that cars equipped WITH ABS are involved in MORE accidents than cars WITHOUT ABS!!!! CLICK HERE

Otherwise, there is simply no way around the basic physics. Add or subtract ABS, add or subtract 6 airbags, but based on real-world and real-highway results, a big-tall-heavy-expensive vehicle will be safer than a small-low-light-cheap vehicle.

:cool:



The "famous" (?) VW Microbus vs. Volvo crash test from Sweden. Which vehicle would YOU rather be driving?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Not to be a [fill in the epithet], but.... while I don't doubt the correlations that Bob S. is talking about, a problem with the data could be that the bigger cars tend to have more safety features than the smaller cars -- like side air bags and ABS. I'm not saying across-the-board, but just a tendency. For example, looking at the first couple of examples -- the Volvos do much better than the Civic and the Corolla. Yes, there's a difference in "mass," but there's also a difference in extra safety features too. Civics and Corollas may or may not have those extra features, but the Volvos always have them (right??). I'm not saying this accounts for the entire differences but it might count for some or even a lot.


BTW I hope no actual "people" were in those two cars.....
 

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One point that has not been brought up, and is a huge benefit to have ABS is road conditions. Rain (or water), snow, dirt, etc. are all things that can cause you to lose control while braking. Bottom line is that on the street (track is completely different), any aid in quicker/safer stopping is a plus.
Same situation with side airbags. It is a feature that will aid in your safety in the unfortunate event of an accident. If it were me, and I had the option of both these features, or not.. I'd be all over them :thumbsup:
 

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Yes, ABS should be considered a "need-to-have", especially for a inexperienced driver.

It's true that a person can stop a car in a shorter distance than ABS if they are concentrating on it, but I'd say that 99.9% of the time with 99.9% of the drivers on the road, in an emergency situation, the driver is not going to be focused enough to remember to modulate the brakes instead of slamming on them.

It's also true that bigger and taller vehicles are safer for their occupants, as the smaller vehicle will tend to go under the bigger car in an accident. Of course the downside to these vehicles is that they are more prone to rollovers (high center of gravity), are not fuel efficient and in most cases don't offer the performance (acceleration and handling) that some people prefer.
 

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larchmont said:
a problem with the data could be that the bigger cars tend to have more safety features than the smaller cars -- like side air bags and ABS. I'm not saying across-the-board, but just a tendency. For example, looking at the first couple of examples -- the Volvos do much better than the Civic and the Corolla. Yes, there's a difference in "mass," but there's also a difference in extra safety features too. Civics and Corollas may or may not have those extra features, but the Volvos always have them (right??). I'm not saying this accounts for the entire differences but it might count for some or even a lot.


BTW I hope no actual "people" were in those two cars.....
There's no problem with the "data". These are the actual, real world, blood-and-guts results. These are real people with real injuries taken to real Emergency Rooms.

The Volvo 240 only acquired standard ABS in it's last year of production, 1993. It was supposedly optional in 1991 and 1992, but I've never seen a 240 so equipped. The Crown Vic only received standard ABS within the last couple of years. It was NOT available at any price on the Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis in 1988-1991, my first set of plucked results. The Crown Victoria Police Interceptors were also NOT routinely equipped with the then-optional ABS until the last couple of years.

People may stupid but they're not dummies in Sweden. The "dummies" in the Volvo and VW were "Crash Test" dummies. And, as should be obvious from the pix, the dummies in the Volvo "died".



The Volvo 740 and the Volkswagen Microbus: The Volvo.

While all those airbags and stuff "may" lead to increased safety under some conditions, they were designed for an era when prople rarely fastened their seat belts. Appreciate that besides lacking ABS, race cars don't have airbags either. I've read that in a collision where the occupant is restrained by belts, the incremental safety "gain" from the airbags is about 10%. If you didn't click on the IIHS report, you're more likely to die in a car with ABS than without ABS by insurance claims statistics. Click me, Click Me, Ohhhhh CLICK ME!!!!

So I'd rather send my kid out in a Tank without airbags or ABS than in a small car with those features. You just can't beat basic physics. Given the choice with a Tank with ABS and airbags and one without them, I'd still buy the features if they were optional. but I don't think there is any good evidence that they are a substitute for mass. The real-world results suggest the opposite.

:flower:

Things you DO NOT read in the Noooo Yawk Times......
 

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bob shiftright said:
While all those airbags and stuff "may" lead to increased safety under some conditions, they were designed for an era when prople rarely fastened their seat belts. Appreciate that besides lacking ABS, race cars don't have airbags either. I've read that in a collision where the occupant is restrained by belts, the incremental safety "gain" from the airbags is about 10%.
Actually airbags were actually designed with the passenger wearing a seatbelt. Those passengers not wearing a seat belt could actually sustain more injuries in an accident if they weren't wearing a seatbelt. Side airbags and curtains are a relatively new safety feature that was introduced in a time when wearing a seatbelt is required by law in most states.

Race cars also have reinforced roll cages and the drivers wear helmets and safety harnesses (not seatbelts). The reason why race cars don't have ABS and airbags isn't because they don't think they provide more safety... it's because they want to reduce as much weight in the car as possible.

I'm guessing that just about everyone would like to be 10% safer in an accident.

Don't get me wrong, I agree that in a multiple vehicle accident, the passengers in the bigger and heavier vehicle will likely sustain less injuries than the other vehicle... partly because the bigger and heavier vehnicle will do more damage to the other vehicle. However,
 

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- the stats don't reflect that smaller vehicles are likely to be involved in an accident. This is an active safety feature - to avoid the accident in the first place. All other factors being equal, a vehicle with lower mass will have high performance than a heavier vehicle. That doesn't even taken into account that taller vehicles tend to handle less responsively because of higher centre of mass and/or softly sprung suspensions with more travel.

- I compare the heavier vehicle argument to sitting on a couple of phone books in the theatre to see better. It's a very self-centred approach that is only effective until others bring their own phone books (or drive heavier vehicles).

- 1st gen airbags were designed for an unrestrained 200 lb male. You can partly blame the rash of airbag deaths on those that don't buckle up, forcing the gov't to legislate passive restraints. 2nd gen airbags are less powerful and designed to work with belted occupants. I'm not sure if they still have a "1st gen" mode that activates based on a the seatbelt latch.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Great stuff from everybody. I hope I didn't piss off Bob S. too much by kibitzing about the data. But whether or not I did, he sure trumped me in the reply. :nervous:
Point taken. But as I said in the first place, I didn't doubt the basic point.

OTOH Kiteboy makes a good point about having a better chance to AVOID an accident in a smaller car -- and especially a NIMBLER car, I'd add. The differences between the TL-S and the TSX aren't extreme, but I feel much more able to avoid unwanted circumstances in the TSX. Although maybe it's an illusion.
But I know that the data presented by Bob subsume and supercede (sp?? :donno: ) all this.

Another point is that ABS can be almost worse than nothing if you don't use those brakes properly -- and I think most people don't. Let me put it this way: I don't. Even though I "know" what you're supposed to do, I usually don't, especially in a pinch, because I developed my driving habits with "regular" brakes, and also (I think) the correct ABS ways are counter-intuitive (or maybe I just think they are because I grew up with something else). I had a little accident with my TL-S which I think was attributable to that, even though technically it was completely not my fault, and the other side conceded that and paid in full. What occurred: A cab pulled out from a parking space suddenly and quickly, right into my path; I hit the brakes but the car didn't really stop. Even though it wasn't "my fault," I was surprised I wasn't able to avoid the hit, and for a while I thought it was that the brakes weren't that great and the stock tires weren't the best. But the more I thought about it, I got to thinking maybe I didn't do the ABS thing quite right.
 

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sjlee said:
Actually airbags were actually designed with the passenger wearing a seatbelt. Those passengers not wearing a seat belt could actually sustain more injuries in an accident if they weren't wearing a seatbelt. Side airbags and curtains are a relatively new safety feature that was introduced in a time when wearing a seatbelt is required by law in most states.

Race cars also have reinforced roll cages and the drivers wear helmets and safety harnesses (not seatbelts). The reason why race cars don't have ABS and airbags isn't because they don't think they provide more safety... it's because they want to reduce as much weight in the car as possible.

I'm guessing that just about everyone would like to be 10% safer in an accident.

Don't get me wrong, I agree that in a multiple vehicle accident, the passengers in the bigger and heavier vehicle will likely sustain less injuries than the other vehicle... partly because the bigger and heavier vehnicle will do more damage to the other vehicle. However,
When I last took the Skip Barber road course http://www.skipbarber.com , they pulled the fuses on the ABS on the school cars and trained us how to "beat" the ABS, that is to haul the car down quicker without ABS than with the ABS functional. Of course we were focusing our attention on the task at hand, not jabbering on a cell phone, sipping a Starbucks Latte or fooling with the stereo. So I'd buy ABS on a car if it was optional. I'd have to guess that the reason a car with ABS is statistically less safe is the same reason that the AWD SUV is the car that's invariably on it's roof in the middle of the highway whenever it snows. Consciously or unconsciously the ABS is going to lead to a false sense of security. I doubt the ABS pump itself weighs more than a few pounds and in most racing classes the minimum weight is specified anyway, so if there were anything to be gained on a track by the ABS the race cars would have it. I know that in competitive events on the track cars usually have roll cages and harnesses and the drivers wear helmets but they also tend to slam into things at speeds that people rarely see on public highways.

When airbags were first introduced in the first GM cars in the early 1970s the reason was because most drivers did not use their seat belts at the time. In 1974 the Feds even had the carmakers wire the seatbelts into the ignition so you couldn't start the car unless the seat belt was fastened. Congress killed this law within 6 months when they were swamped with letters from their annoyed constituents. (I remember the spaghetti-wiring under the front seat to bypass this "feature" on my '74 Dart.) Subsequently, state seatbelt laws have made airbags less important. While the side airbags are no doubt helpful in a collision with a taller vehicle, it is less clear that side airbags are more effective than driving another tall vehicle. In the Swedish crash test above there were no airbags that I could see deploying in the VW but the Microbus dummies didn't contact much of the Volvo except with their feet. The Volvo dummies contacted the Microbus with their heads and torsos.

Within any weight/size class of vehicles, the one with the most airbags should be the best one to crash. But there remains a roughly linear relationship between the safety of a vehicle and it's mass. The dozen+ years of IIHS claims data support this. Large, tall, heavy, expensive vehicles are generally safer than small, low, light, cheap vehicles - with ABS and airbags or without them.

I would also think that a small manuverable vehicle might be safer than a large ponderous vehicle but both the IIHS injury rates and Driver Death Rates seem to contradict this.

If safety were the only factor, I'd drive something like an Excursion or a Humvee. But it's not, I enjoy carving corners, I like to drive fast, hiding in the "tall grass" of the SUVs and I hate throwing $$ in the gas tank and I'm willing to take some risks to do so. It's also probably safer to bludgeon my way through NYC rush hour traffic in a TSX than it would be to do so driving a Porsche or riding a Harley. The one certainty about life is that nobody gets out of it alive. The TSX (or a similar-sized sedan) is a "happy medium" for me. Your own "happy medium" may be different.:)
 

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larchmont said:
Great stuff from everybody. I hope I didn't piss off Bob S. too much by kibitzing about the data. But whether or not I did, he sure trumped me in the reply. :nervous:
Point taken. But as I said in the first place, I didn't doubt the basic point.

OTOH Kiteboy makes a good point about having a better chance to AVOID an accident in a smaller car -- and especially a NIMBLER car, I'd add. The differences between the TL-S and the TSX aren't extreme, but I feel much more able to avoid unwanted circumstances in the TSX. Although maybe it's an illusion.
But I know that the data presented by Bob subsume and supercede (sp?? :donno: ) all this.
No, I enjoy rational discussions! If I were pissed off I'd just ignore you, larch! It would be easy enough since you have your own board now!

Last crash I had was in the Volvo and it was with a semi tractor tire flying across I-78. Manuverability is completely useless if you're boxed in.

Bottom line is for a teen I'd recommend something a little bigger than a Civic. Probably an older Volvo, a Saab or Crown Victoria- Mercury Grand Marquis (I did the latter to my own kid and somehow she didn't hate me any more than teenage daughters normally hate their dads. As she said if it starts and it's free she doesn't have much to complain about.) Compared to the average SUV the Crown Vic handles like a sports car, too!

After a couple of years driving experience I might provide something a little newer and nicer. Your approach might differ. :)
 

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bob shiftright said:
When I last took the Skip Barber road course http://www.skipbarber.com , they pulled the fuses on the ABS on the school cars and trained us how to "beat" the ABS, that is to haul the car down quicker without ABS than with the ABS functional. Of course we were focusing our attention on the task at hand, not jabbering on a cell phone, sipping a Starbucks Latte or fooling with the stereo. So I'd buy ABS on a car if it was optional. I'd have to guess that the reason a car with ABS is statistically less safe is the same reason that the AWD SUV is the car that's invariably on it's roof in the middle of the highway whenever it snows. Consciously or unconsciously the ABS is going to lead to a false sense of security. I doubt the ABS pump itself weighs more than a few pounds and in most racing classes the minimum weight is specified anyway, so if there were anything to be gained on a track by the ABS the race cars would have it. I know that in competitive events on the track cars usually have roll cages and harnesses and the drivers wear helmets but they also tend to slam into things at speeds that people rarely see on public highways.

When airbags were first introduced in the first GM cars in the early 1970s the reason was because most drivers did not use their seat belts at the time. In 1974 the Feds even had the carmakers wire the seatbelts into the ignition so you couldn't start the car unless the seat belt was fastened. Congress killed this law within 6 months when they were swamped with letters from their annoyed constituents. (I remember the spaghetti-wiring under the front seat to bypass this "feature" on my '74 Dart.) Subsequently, state seatbelt laws have made airbags less important. While the side airbags are no doubt helpful in a collision with a taller vehicle, it is less clear that side airbags are more effective than driving another tall vehicle. In the Swedish crash test above there were no airbags that I could see deploying in the VW but the Microbus dummies didn't contact much of the Volvo except with their feet. The Volvo dummies contacted the Microbus with their heads and torsos.

Within any weight/size class of vehicles, the one with the most airbags should be the best one to crash. But there remains a roughly linear relationship between the safety of a vehicle and it's mass. The dozen+ years of IIHS claims data support this. Large, tall, heavy, expensive vehicles are generally safer than small, low, light, cheap vehicles - with ABS and airbags or without them.

I would also think that a small manuverable vehicle might be safer than a large ponderous vehicle but both the IIHS injury rates and Driver Death Rates seem to contradict this.

If safety were the only factor, I'd drive something like an Excursion or a Humvee. But it's not, I enjoy carving corners, I like to drive fast, hiding in the "tall grass" of the SUVs and I hate throwing $$ in the gas tank and I'm willing to take some risks to do so. It's also probably safer to bludgeon my way through NYC rush hour traffic in a TSX than it would be to do so driving a Porsche or riding a Harley. The one certainty about life is that nobody gets out of it alive. The TSX (or a similar-sized sedan) is a "happy medium" for me. Your own "happy medium" may be different.:)
Here's a nice little article I found on ABS from a racing school website:

http://www.racingschools.com/tips/abs.shtml

They basically endorse ABS and have some theories of their own regarding the crash test data. In addition, they also provide a reason why race cars don't have ABS.

Again, no one is denying that if two cars collide, the one with the most mass would do more damage to the smaller one. Does it mean they are safer? Well, it depends on who's point of view you're talking. The people in the giant SUV will be safer than the people in the Civic. But as KiteBoy mentioned, there's always a bigger vehicle. If an SUV is hit by a semi-truck, I'd expect the people in the SUV wouldn't be any safer.

I agree with Bob, however, that it's all a compromise and personal preference. If we all wanted to drive really safe cars, we'd all be driving big heavy vehicles that were low to the ground. Personally, I like the freedom and performance a motorcycle offers, and I'm willing to give up some safety to ride it.
 
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