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Old 07-13-2016, 04:36 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by rallypanam View Post
And of course, all the mods change everything.. bumpers, new front suspension, lifts, front mounted winches, poptops, etc.

I just try not to hit anything bigger than me.
I'm with ^^Rob^^ here. There's no way to make a camper safe. The van, in stock form, may be fairly safe, but the cabinets, appliances, gear, etc. aren't going to stay in place in a bad crash. If you've ever seen camper crashes you probably know what I mean. Typical white box campers come apart like a cardboard box but our vans have a big steel shell, which just means everything comes loose inside and flies around hitting people, or maybe it's people coming loose and hitting the things. I don't dwell on this but I think it's probably impossible to make a camper van very safe.

Stock van? Different discussion.

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Old 07-13-2016, 05:25 PM   #12
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I have some real world experience with this subject. I'm a firefighter in San Diego County and I work along I-8. I've seen several head-on and frontal impact crashes involving ford vans and the results were horrible for the van occupants. The ford van is an ancient design and has no crumple zone technology in its design, in my opinion. That being said I have a class c r.v. And a camper van. Drive defensively! I'm sure newer designs are safer but vans in general just don't have enough mass in front of the driver to absorb the energy of a crash. Sorry if this sounds super negative but you asked. Steve
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Old 07-13-2016, 10:47 PM   #13
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Please always keep in mind that these are large, heavy, potentially dangerous things to operate.

I've killed a black bear with mine. All it did was bent a rim and one of the steering stabilizers. I was probably going 20mph at time of impact. The Bear first took my wheel and then the dana 60 in the head.

Before the impact I was going about 40 in a 55 and the bear came down a side-hill at speed. I braked as hard as I could (though this was pre-abs), and hit him about 2-3 van lengths before coming to a stop.

These vans, particularly when lifted have zero pedestrian safety.

That experience really changed how I think of driving in places where there might be humans walking around. I really want to be able to be at 3-5mph in no time if someone were to step of a curb inadvertently.
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Old 07-15-2016, 06:51 AM   #14
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...I've killed a black bear with mine. All it did was bent a rim and one of the steering stabilizers. I was probably going 20mph at time of impact. The Bear first took my wheel and then the dana 60 in the head...
and if you had hit that same bear in a Honda Civic or Toyota Prius? Faster stopping for sure, but there could easily be a similar situation where you could not stop in time. I'd guess the Civic or Prius would be declared Totaled by the insurance company.


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Old 07-15-2016, 02:27 PM   #15
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I used to guide outdoor trips and we'd drive the EB vans loaded up with college kids. We would routinely take a defensive driving class using our vans. The idea was to mitigate some of the risk assoc. with our long drives to our destination. School / chuch vans like these have a terrible track record for highway rollovers.

Here was one of the cone exercises that they had us practice:
You would setup by driving 30mph straight at some cones, hands at 9 and 3 on the wheel. The instructor would wave a direction at you from outside the van and at the last second. You'd then make a 1/2 turn (your 9 hand all the way to the 3 position) in the right direction, without applying the brakes at all. The idea was to try to avoid the cones, and get comfortable with fairly extreme evasive action. I would certainly not try that with anything but a bone stock van.

The main lessons that I picked up - Focus on the road, and drive defensively. Don't get too caught up in conversation, changing radio stations, eating, etc. That's what the co-pilot is for.

We would also impose a drive time restriction, usually 8-hrs a day, so that you wouldn't be tempted to drive tired. This is probably the largest risk that most people take, especially after a solid adventure trip.

Not that my family always adheres to this level of strictness while on personal trips, but certainly something I think about often.
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Old 07-18-2016, 02:47 PM   #16
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Good topic. This issue was one of a couple issues as to why we moved on (yet I still visit here -I miss Herb I guess). Needing more room as the other reason. We went to a crew cab pickup, then a RV (F550 Chassis) and back to a crew cab truck because the kids are more important. Well, the 13yo is anyway (that damn 16yo will be the death of me).
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Old 07-18-2016, 05:29 PM   #17
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The man driving a standard econoline van in a head-on collision, had his right leg severely crushed and wedged in - making initial extraction attempts fail. Two surgeons from the closest hospital went out to help w/ the extrication - or to amputate the leg at the scene. Luckily, extrication was ultimately successful. The driver underwent multiple operations but ultimately had a good functioning leg. So, I agree with Steve that there is no crumple zone. Best to drive defensively, keep van in top maintenance condition - and lastly, keep fingers crossed, or pray.
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Old 07-18-2016, 05:40 PM   #18
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Tell my wife it's safer than a motorcycle.

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Old 07-20-2016, 06:32 AM   #19
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Yes, airbags are triggered by the deceleration, bumpers won't affect that.
They absolutely will. Your car is designed to crush around you. To be DOT compliant, your factory front bumper has to take a low-speed hit and not activate the airbags. If you have an aftermarket front bumper that is bolted directly to the frame and substantially stronger, those small forces are going to be transferred right to the chassis with much less "crushing." That means smaller impacts that would normally result in front end damage, but no airbag deployment may, in fact, trigger the airbags but not have front end damage.

You buy an aftermarket front bumper to protect the front of the vehicle from physical damage incurred offroad. The trade-off is that you're going to transfer more forces to the occupants in a crash, and could set off the airbags at a slower speed. A bumper like AEV or ARB that uses the factory crush cans will negate this in a low-speed crash, but you're still drastically changing the crash forces and how the car crumples during an accident.

That crash vid of the econoline van looks horrid. But, I don't think anyone is expecting it to be as good as a more modern designed vehicle.
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Old 07-20-2016, 10:57 AM   #20
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and if you had hit that same bear in a Honda Civic or Toyota Prius? Faster stopping for sure, but there could easily be a similar situation where you could not stop in time. I'd guess the Civic or Prius would be declared Totaled by the insurance company.
Not a bad point.

These days my other choices are a three series or a 911. I'd have been going faster in either of them. They do both have really good brakes. While I like to think that I'd have been able to swerve enough to miss the bear, I may not have.

I'm not at all sure how it would have ended for the occupants, had I hit that bear in one of those.
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