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Auto Accidents

Surviving a Car Crash: Minicars Come Up Short

March 27, 2014 | Michael Barasch

A recent study found minicars do not measure up in a common crash scenario. Small cars offer savings in size and cost, but the difference in safety could be deadly in an accident. 

To respond to consumer demand for highly maneuverable, economic transportation, auto manufacturers offer minicars, lightweight vehicles that are easy on fuel and space. Despite the advantages, there could be a high price to pay when a minicar is involved in an accident. 

In a road test to evaluate the performance of 11 minicar models in a small overlap front-crash test, only one model received an acceptable rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). 

The small overlap test replicates conditions of a car striking a rigid object at 40 miles per hour. Impact is taken on the left front end of the car, nearest the driver. Findings from the IIHS include the following: 

  • Only the Chevrolet Spark received an “acceptable” rating. Though the car passed the test, photographs of the mangled car raise questions about human survival.
  • The small overlap test is challenging. Energy from the impact can collapse the passenger cab of a minicar and alter the position of deployed airbags.
  • During testing on some models, the head of the crash dummy slid past the airbag and hit the instrument panel. In others, the driver door was torn off leading to possible driver ejection from the vehicle during an accident.

Smaller cars weigh less and pass on that advantage through lower fuel consumption and other costs. In an overlap-type accident, this test suggests drivers and passengers may pay a fatal price for traveling in lightweight vehicles. 

When you have questions about a car accident, speak with experienced legal counsel in New York City.

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