If you are considering trading in your old car for a new one, you might want to think about safety when choosing. Each year the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) lists what they believe to be the safest new cars available.
They split the cars into several categories related to size and type and emphasize that the safest small car might not be as safe as a lower-ranking vehicle in a larger size category. In other words, big is often better. Or at least it is for the occupants of the car in question.
Cars that are safer for their occupants can do more harm to others
Large cars use their size to protect those inside them. Yet their bulk adds weight which will increase the force of impact on other cars in a crash. Oversized vehicles are also higher off the ground. So in a side-on collision, the bumper of a large pickup will hit the occupants of a low-slung sports car at head height, increasing the risk of death. Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists have far less chance of surviving when hit by a large “safe” car than a smaller “less safe” one.
What features can make vehicles for occupants and other road users?
The IIHS list only rates cars based on how safe they are for people inside them. Yet, some of those safety features can make them safer for other road users too. Here are some features that can benefit everyone:
- Crash prevention technology: Sensors that realize a crash is imminent then apply extra braking where needed can help avoid a collision. Anti-lock braking and traction control can help keep the car steady while braking or where sliding is a risk.
- Crumple zones: Cars that cave in can help absorb the crash impact for both parties. There are, however, limits as you still want an inner core of the car to protect you.
- Good lights: Well-designed lamps help you see others and them to see you, reducing the chance a collision occurs.
All drivers have a responsibility to other road users. People who feel indestructible in their car may take risks and drive in a way that causes a crash that leaves you with severe injuries and in need of compensation.