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Preventing Boston Car Accidents: IIHS Says The Bigger and Heavier the Motor Vehicle, the Greater the Safety Protection Provided

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently announced the results of three front-to-front crash tests it conducted. A microcar or minicar and a midsize model from the same auto maker were used for each test. IIHS president Adrian Lund says that while there are undoubtedly benefits to buying the smaller cars, including the facts that they cost less and don’t use up as much gas, these latest tests show that people may be sacrificing occupant safety for financial savings.

The IIHS tested 2009 models against each other: The Honda Fit against the Honda Accord, the Mercedes C against the Smart Fortwo, and The Toyota Camry against the Yaris. During all three tests the laws of physics won out. While the smaller cars did well in IIHS frontal offset barrier tests, they performed poorly against the larger cars-which aren’t even considered large cars compared to luxury-sized cars, pickup trucks, SUV’s, and passenger vans.

In all three tests, the bigger and heavier autos performed better in terms of occupant safety. The dummies in the smaller, lighter autos tended to be at a disadvantage. The larger, heavier vehicle ended up pushing into the smaller, lighter auto, which means that if there had been people riding in the smaller cars, they would have experienced more force upon impact than if they had been occupants in the larger autos. The greater the force, the greater the risk of injury or death, which means the chances of injury goes up when someone rides in a microcar or a minicar.

This is confirmed by auto accident statistics, which reports that the fatality rate for occupants of minicars in multiple vehicle collisions in 2007 was nearly two times that of the fatality rate for people in very big cars. It also helps for occupants of larger cars that the larger size and weight of the vehicle will likely deform or move any object it hits.

It is important that auto manufacturers make cars that are safely designed and manufactured to minimize/prevent injuries or deaths. A car maker can be held liable for Massachusetts products liability or wrongful death if their defectively designed vehicle or a defective auto part within the motor vehicle causes personal injury or wrongful death.

New crash tests demonstrate the influence of vehicle size and weight on safety in crashes; results are relevant to fuel economy policies, Insurance Institute for Highway Information, April 14, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Car Size and Weight are Crucial (PDF)

NHTSA

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