Governor Idris Wada’s Auto-crash; the bullet proof SUV

car crash
The Governor's SUV

It is now a well known fact that the governor of Kogi State was involved in a ghastly Motor accident on Friday 28th December. A careful look at the picture of the Lexus SUV he was travelling in and a statement credited to an anonymous family member on facebook who claimed that the vehicle was bullet proof brings me to the conclusion that the vehicle must have been travelling at quite a high speed and that the armour must be partial or something in the lower grade.

Understanding car armour (bullet proof cars)

A bullet proof car is a defensive armour car that is designed to withstand some level or ballistics. Just as there are different grades of ballistics, so there are different level of vehicle armour. The common standard codes for car armour from the lowest to the highest are T4/B4, T6/B6, T7/B7 and T7. In recent times, even the T4 or B4 grades are equipped with run-flat tires.
Something else to know about bullet proof cars is that while a normal SUV weighs about 1.5 – 2kg, its bullet proof counterparts weigh about 4.5kg. Up to three time the normal weight. Simple physics will tell you that the bullet proof SUV will have three time the kinetic energy of the 1.5kg normal SUV if they are moving at the same speed. I.E, the force  transferred to and felt by the bullet proof car and its occupants respectively on impact is about three time that in a regular SUV at the same speed.  So, while bullet proof cars are designed to stop bullets fired at it from different directions, they are not very good performers in crash test at high speed. The car itself may not show obvious damage but the discomfort/damage caused the occupants will be significantly higher than that of a conventional car with the same level of safety features. That is why most bullet proof cars have electronically limited top speeds. The US Presidential State car (Obama’s Limousine), the most fortified armoured vehicle that I know of, has a top speed of about 96km/h. Why go so fast on land when money isn’t the problem; why turn a safe haven into a potential death trap when it is built to withstand and get away from an immediate threat if any. I don’t think Nigerian VIPs drivers understand these as all they do is try to go faster than every other car on the highway.

The crash

run-flat
cross section of a run-flat tire
Now on the crash. A close look at the Lexus SUV in the picture (supposed to be bullet proof) shows that the car doesn’t seem to be fitted with Run-flat tires, at least on the rear driver side wheel and for this particular trip. Run-flats are becoming standards on many non-armoured vehicles these days, so for a comfort SUV of this class, run-flats wouldn’t be an option. Expecially since the effect of a sudden tire bust will be more pronounced on an SUV than a sedan owing to the fact that SUVs have higher roll-over risks than sedans. A good run-flat wheel would have prevented the vehicle from veering off the road and also driven them safely to Lokoja before replacement.
Secondly, the level of damage that the car took will only show that it must have been moving quite fast for such an armoured car as I explained earlier. If the object it collided with wasn't stationary,  the speed will then have to be considered in relative terms.

So, as we wish our governor quick recovery and the souls of the departed eternal rest, we’ll like to caution all drivers to first understand what they are driving and above all understand the physics of driving.
Drop a comment below to let us know what you think.

Note: Bullet proof and armoured was used interchangeably here as bullet proof is a type of defensive armour.



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Comments

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