Today’s car designs may be lame, but their crash safety is a triumph of engineering.

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Watching the modern Malibu, the hood area deforms significantly but the passenger area looks almost entirely intact. Shift your eyes over to the 1959 Chevy and it’s the stuff of old highway-safety and shock-and-scare films, just melodrama and implied gore. There’s plenty of car gore though, with the Bel Air’s steering column slammed forward into the driver, the A-pillar completely mangled, and the dash pushed back to finish the punch. Trim pieces fly, shards of non-safety-glass fly forward, and…well, that’s probably enough of a spoiler.

In case there’s any doubt based on the description above, according to safety engineers at the scene, the driver of the 2009 Chevrolet Malibu would likely have suffered slight knee injury. The driver of the 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air would have died instantly.

Do we drive like morons today because we know we’ll live through a crash?