Are small cars safe to drive?
This is one of the most prevalent questions that many car buyers ask. As of now, there is a going trend where people tend to opt to downsize their large vehicles to smaller ones. Of course, this is completely understandable. After all, these compact models are cheaper than their larger counterparts.
Before you purchase a small car, you need to learn all of its dynamics first.
Bigger Cars Offer More Safety Than Smaller Cars
The latest models of compact cars have improved safety features. They are the safest than they have ever been. However, this doesn’t mean that their safety level has exceeded those of large-size cars.
There’s no need to have a difficult justification for this. Physics can explain this to you. The bigger and heavier a car is, the safer it becomes. Large cars and trucks are heavy and offer longer hoods and larger crush zones. In the moment of accidents, they can generate decent protection for their passengers.
According to the study of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), it was found out that a heavy vehicle will push a light vehicle during a collision. Because of this, the impact and force on the larger car are lesser than the lighter one. Of course, their data tells that these findings are correct. In 2015, the death rate of SUVs was 13 deaths per million registered vehicles. Meanwhile, the death rate for mini cars for that year is 64 deaths per million registered vehicles.
Old Large Vehicles Are Not Safer Than New Small Cars
Some people believe that old cars that were constructed like tanks are still tougher and more durable than the new mini cars. However, this is not true at all.
Keep in mind that a large 10-year-old truck does not possess side bags. They don’t have any electronic stability control (ESC) either. Because of this, you cannot expect that they will do well in crashes compared to brand new small vehicles. After all, new cars have already integrated modern collision avoidance technology and modern safety equipment.
The electronic stability control, for instance, drastically decreases the risk of a vehicle rolling over. Such a feature is highly important to SUVs and heavy trucks.
Crash Test Scores Are Not Comparable Across Different Car Sizes
One of the things that confuse buyers is that vehicles of different sizes can possess similar safety ratings. Because of this, it makes you think that a small car is as safe as a big vehicle. Well, that’s not really the case.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has its own way of measuring the crash rating of a car. Specifically, it uses a five-star safety rating. Meanwhile, the IIHS has its own separate crash test. It also rates vehicles for their crash-worthiness using a Good-To-Poor. The rating is based on the survivability of a driver during crashes.
Always remember that these ratings are only usable whenever you are comparing cars that are similar in sizes. Therefore, a small car that has received a 5-star rating from the NHTSA does not really imply that it can offer similar protection to a 5-star SUV truck. The same thing is true with the rating system of the IIHS.
Adrian Lund, the current IIHS president, said that “the ratings are meant to be used to compare crashes with vehicles of similar size.”
“You can’t really go between the segments with these ratings,” Lund continued.
Of course, you have to remember that no test program can cover every crash scenario on the road. Every day, unique accidents happen, and it is quite difficult to replicate them in a controlled setting.
However, if you are going to purchase a car that has a high score rating in the NHTSA and IIHS tests, then it can give you better chances of avoiding severe injuries or death. Surely enough, the statement applies to both small and big cars. It will make an interested buyer in a small car. He or she will get a unit with great mileage and safety features.
The decision to drive a small car is still up to you. As of now, you just have to remember that it is your responsibility to drive defensively and ensure that your vehicle is well-maintained. Doing these things can drastically reduce the chances of meeting a road accident.