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MG ZR ZS ZT Technical - An accident that may concern the Z cars

Hi !
As you may know from my previous posts I donít like the new Z-cars and especially the rear wing at the top of the trunk. I was concerned about image and styling but there is another concern : security.

Todayís local newspaper related an accident involving a pedestrian and a tuned car having such a wing. Witnesses said the pedestrian hit the car windscreen and land on the wing that deadly injured him. Police said they will investigate the conformity of the car. The article author concluded that following the last year complaints from the motorcyclists federation about these dangerous wings, this accident show that it is necessary to improve the regulations about these wings or to forbid their use on open roads.


I think that, if a pedestrian or motorcyclist is struck by a car in such a way that he or she is thrown over the car to land on the boot, the presence or absence of a rear spoiler is probably not a major concern. Such an accident would most likely cause extremely serious injury, regardless of the car's features.

Perhaps, in the accident you mention, the spoiler did indeed strike the fatal blow. The pavement behind the car would probably have done so, if the spoiler had not done it first. Or perhaps the next car behind the one that struck the pedestrian. I would expect that you would have to be moving fairly fast to launch a person over the car. This means that there may well be more cars following, unless the driver were speeding through a car park, in which case it is not completely fair to blame the design of the car for the fatality.

There are always going to be accidents. Some designs may cause serious injury in certain, bizarre circumstances. To try to design a completely harmless car would be difficult and would probably render the car absolutely boring to drive and uninspiring to look at. The trick is to find a balance, in which features that are LIKELY to cause injury in COMMON accidents are eliminated, without completely altering the character of the car.
Paul Noble

"Spoiler" that's the word !

You know the front of modern cars are also designed to minimize the pedestrian injuries.

"I would expect that you would have to be moving fairly fast to launch a person over the car" : not necessarily : perhaps he rolled over.

I asked myself the question how the witnesses are so sure it is the spoiler that killed the guy? > i guess the car was not driving fast and the guy rolled over the car so what really killed him would be indeed the spoiler.

Anyway, i think MG-Rover should think about that.

Originally supplied external parts have to pass type approval. As such there is a need to conform with areas that involve pedestrian, cyclist and motorcyclist contact and injury risk.

As such this subject is way too late as the whole issue has already been dealt with.

As a comparison there is far, far greater concern over the use of 'Bull Bars' predominately on 4X4's. Manufacturers had responded by creating designs that would comply with type approval requirments, yet most bars fitted are aftermarket and not subject to these requirments, and which cause most of the problems and injuries. The same situation applies here in that the standard product will be compliant, yet those who make and those who desire these appendages will only consider the look and how difficult it is to fit. The latter point making the thing more of an injury hazard.

Roger Parker

I thought insurers were taking a tougher line as well refusing to insure or hiking the premiums for those with after market bull bars.


>Anyway, i think MG-Rover should think about that.

And Subaru?


They should too


Here in the states, I know of several instances where the insurance companies requested that bull bars be added. After my mothers receptionist had her 3d claim for repairs caused by hitting a deer her agent told her her rates would go up unless she had a bar installed.

Personally I think a safe and experienced driver will recognize when they are travelling too fast for conditions and just slow down.

Some Alfa Romeo have big spoilers to!

Sadly when pedestrians or maybe motorcyclist come in contact with cars people can die! If the spoiler were to stop a pedestrian from falling into the path of a following vehicle would you advocate that all cars be then fitted with spoilers?
This scenario is just as likely and is a spoiler dealing the final blow!!


The simple aerodynamic reality is that unless you're driving on a road with either a very high or no speed limit, such as Germany's Autobahn, the spoiler is of little or no practical use. The majority of spoilers mounted on cars in our country are in truth nothing more than styling accessories, having no more significance in terms of performance than their 50's stylistic equivalents- Tail Fins and Fuzzy Dice.
Steve S.

"a safe and experienced driver will recognize when they are travelling too fast for conditions and just slow down"

And what proportion of the motoring public do they represent?
Paul Hunt

Arnaud, you make a good point, but we don't have enough details of the accident. I'd be particularly curious to find out whether the spoiler shattered on impact, and the shards from this disintegration caused the fatal injury. Or was the back of the neck struck by the rear spoiler?

I think the issue of aftermarket spoilers is well covered in Roger's post. I am sure that MG-R's spoilers will be type approved, and the risk to injury minimised (this being achievable in many ways).

As an aside, the word 'accident' is being banned from the British Medical Journal based on previous reports that practically all 'accidents' are preventable. The term 'accident' suggests that there was nothing that could be done to avoid the event from occuring... In this case, the problem that Arnaud described has at least two sides- the pedastrian not taking due care when crossing the road, and the driver for not being in a circumstance whereby he/she could not take avoiding action through braking or manoevering. Speed may, or may not, have been contributory- but almost certainly contributed to the lethality of this sad event. But having said that, the speed *could* have been judged entirely appropriate for the circumstances if said pedastrian had not stepped out.

These are circumstances that can only be legislated against if there is evidence of extremis. The fact is, if you do not want to die or kill on the roads, you need to be 100% alert all of the time, being aware of the circumstances around you, and try to predict what others might or will do and take action accordingly in good time.

None of us are perfect, which isn't to say that we shouldn't all try...
Rob Bell

Paul, maybe 15 to 30 % are aware of their circumstances and drive responsibly. Up in the frozen north it is common to see people on the interstate (speed limit 65mph max 45 min) during light snow showers driving 35 while the majority of the traffic was driving 55 to 65. Also common was the jerk doing 85 to 100 in a blizzard or dense fog. Both will cause people to run off the road. One is placing himself and others at risk because of a thoughtless recklessness, the other is creating a road hazard due to over cautious driving.Who is the greater hazard? One may take out himself and another innocent driver, while the other may cause 2 or many many more cars to be involved in a multiple pile up and never be personally involved.

Maybe the answer is for everybody to properly aim their headlights and drive a safe
distance behind me ;)

"Also common was the jerk doing 85 to 100 in a blizzard or dense fog. Both will cause people to run off the road. One is placing himself and others at risk because of a thoughtless recklessness, the other is creating a road hazard due to over cautious driving"

I'll never forget about 3 years ago when I was driving on the Mass Pike from Boston towards NJ in a major blizard with white out conditions and about 4 inches of snow on the asphalt. We're all in 2nd gear with our flashers on, and this dumb ass in a new Porsche 911 flies by me in the left lane, clearly above 80mph, begins to spin the car in circles and then disappears off the side of the road into a snow bank, with only the red glow of his tailights visible.

Of course, we stopped (which didn't take much effort at our rate of speed) and checked on the driver. Turns out it was a Boston College student who borrowed his dad's new car without asking. No major damage, but there are plenty of other people out there like him.. And people can kill you just as fast in a Yugo as they can in a Porsche.

Paul Fucito

Oh yeah, back to the big spoiler problem. I think the following cars should be considered the most dangerous based on spoiler sizes (they are too big to be practical):

1. Dodge Charger Daytona (I think the spoiler was 2 or 3 feet high on the street legal variant in 1969)

2. Toyota Supra (the last version)

3. Ferrari F40

4. Lamborghini Countach (quite pointed too)

Those 4 cars come to mind regarding huge spoilers.


Paul Fucito

I was wondering if any of you spoiler enthusiasts could direct me to a source of airfoil shaped stainless tubing of about a 1"x2" cross section? I've got an old wing from a 1970 Olds Cutlass (442?) that I'd like to mount about a foot and a half above the trunk and I need to make up some struts. With a link to the center section of the diff it would come into play anytime the car threatened to come off the ground much like the competition R/C cars. (I don't *think* they reach speeds in excess of 100 mph, but I could be wrong)
D'ya suppose I'd have to worry about pedestrians and motorcyclists with that rig?
Jim Blackwood

If the pedestrian in question was, in fact, killed by the rear spoiler, then perhaps the car should have been going faster so that he/she would have cleared it!!
All this makes a bit of a mockery of legislation designed to make cars "pedestrian friendly". Once even city speed limits are reached, what's "pedestrian friendly"?
David & Meryl MILES

On the local news a few days ago, there was a story about a bloke who hit a fox in his Rover. The fox got wedged sideways across the lower bumper grill, which the driver didn't realise for some miles. Eventually the fox was extracted from its temporary den and made a full recovery!
David Bainbridge

According to our local news a deer was wedged in a similar fashion in the front grill area of a Rover and also was shocked but otherwise unhurt. This driver also drove for several mile to get help as he wasn;t able to remove the animal

Then in that case the ZT must have a 'cowcatcher' like those old wild west trains!
David Bainbridge

This thread was discussed between 08/07/2001 and 22/05/2002

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