Does Car Size Matter in the Case of an Accident
Two of the most active and wildly purchased segments in the auto market right now is the compact car and SUV segments.
With rising concerns about gas prices and environmental practices, people are increasingly moving towards vehicles that are fuel efficient, and yet provide them with a wide array of features to make the journey a comfortable one.
This coupled with fluctuation in gas prices has created a market for smaller vehicles, which are usually perceived as usually being easier to control, sportier, agiler as well as easier for parking.
However, there is one major question related to the compact vehicles that relate to the safety of smaller vehicles. Is a person as safe in a smaller car, then what would have been the case in the case of a larger vehicle? Or is a person more likely to be hurt or killed in an accident, or is the car just as safe as a larger car such as SUV or a truck.
Is Bigger the Better?
If put in simple terms, it is correct that larger vehicles are safer. However, size isn’t what makes much of the impact than a person is led to believe, instead this explanation will help!
Mass is the Deal Maker
Earlier, in the 60s and 70s, vehicles were large and made up of reinforced steel. This helped provide the car with durability, and anyway, during that time, most vehicles were built stronger and bigger. This was so that in case there was an accident, the vehicle’s weight will be able to keep the passengers safe. In cases when a large car used to hit a smaller vehicle, the push was enough to send the smaller car going across the road, thus affecting the smaller car much more.
Earlier, there used to be a huge gap between the cabin and the front bumper, which meant that any impact wouldn’t reach the passengers as quickly.
The same happens in the today’s car market scenario, yet it happens to a lesser extent. Modern vehicles these days are built keeping safety as one of the essential factors, these factors also include crash standards and tests.
While a truck earlier could have run over a smaller car easily, these days, it is mandated that they keep the impact point at a point relatable to the smaller car.
Both vehicles have crumple zones for absorbing a part of the collision, and both vehicles are provided with supplemental restraint systems such as seat belts, and airbags for cushioning the blow. As compared to cars from the earlier durations, smaller cars have taken a huge leap in the matter of safety.
However, the Mass still factors as the heavier, larger vehicle will still be able to push the smaller vehicle around. This means that any subsequent accidents or injury can happen from other extenuating circumstances, but generally, the accident itself is less in favour of the larger vehicle than it earlier was.
Vehicle Design is Influential to Lot of Extents
When the crashes are compared between unequal vehicles from the sixties and the past decade, a person can infer that the injury rates have decreased and reduced phenomenally. This is primarily due to the improvement in vehicle designs. There are a lot of systems that are in the position today that not only reduce injury but also avoid collisions if possible. These are:
Crumple zones are strategically designed within every modern vehicle as a means to save lives from any plausible impact trauma.
The theory behind these zones is that when a vehicle is built to absorb the energy before it reaches passenger compartment, the passengers experience lesser trauma and injury. The theory has been tested extensively and holds to scrutiny every time.
The firewall, suspension, hood, firewall and even windshield are an integral part of the crumple zone and provide structural integrity while driving, but in the case of an impact, these zones collapse in a controlled fashion so that extra kinetic energy can be absorbed and the effects within the car are reduced.
Both small cars and large cars have crumple zones built in now, narrowing the gap between the safety of a large vehicle and a small one.
In the cars made earlier, the focus was on building thick and sturdy parts, while the focus now is on using lightweight parts that have been engineered for rigidity and strength. In fact, the usage of the high strength materials is important for improving the vehicle’s structural integrity. Yet the engineered bracing is made for the crumple zones to be designed in a way that protects on impact.
Also, further decreasing the gap, the same high strength material is used in the case of small as well as large vehicles, which again narrows the disparity in the vehicle safety.
Some safety components have become synonymous as the standard equipment across the board, such as anti-lock brakes(ABS) and traction control.
Airbags too have become a standard equipment, just like seatbelts. Their regulated usage has had a lot of effect in decreasing the fatalities.
Considering that all kinds of vehicles have just about the same features, the gap between the smaller and larger vehicle has gotten narrower.
Smaller vehicles have an edge over the larger vehicles, and that edge is better handling and control. This is because small vehicles are usually easier to control with sporty suspension, nimble handling and a better traction, which serve to better assist the vehicle. On the other hand, a larger vehicle is more likely to have a more difficult time in changing the direction in case a crash happens.
When looking for a simple and effective answer, it’ll be larger vehicles. But now the gap has decreased due to the improvements and the vehicle’s size now means lesser than ever.
Safety is in the hands of the driver and the control with which the car is driven. Attentive, responsible driving will definitely prevent any collisions and keep its occupants safer.