Danger even in 'safe' small cars

Joined
Mar 1, 2007
Messages
392
Location
So. Utah
From CNN: Danger even in 'safe' small cars The Insurance Institute crashes small cars into larger ones to show what could happen in real wrecks. By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNNMoney.com senior writer April 14, 2009: 4:08 AM ET NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- American car buyers have been shifting away from larger vehicles, fearing higher gas prices, but they could be leaving themselves vulnerable in a crash, claims the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That's true even for small cars that get top crash-test ratings, the Institute said. To demonstrate small cars' vulnerability the Insurance Institute crashed small cars head-on into mid-sized cars, then measured the effects on the crash test dummies strapped inside. The small cars involved in all three tests - the Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit and Smart ForTwo - had already earned top scores for front impact protection in the Institute's standard front impact test in which cars are crashed into a crushable barrier, not another car. That test simulates two cars of roughly equal size hitting almost head-on. In these new experimental tests the Institute wanted to show what would happen to a small car in a crash with a larger vehicle. So instead of crashing the cars into a stationary barrier, researchers created actual collisions between small and midsized cars. This time, the same small cars that had top marks in regular crash tests earned poor ratings for impact protection. "There are good reasons people buy minicars," said Institute president Adrian Lund in a prepared statement. "They're more affordable, and they use less gas. But the safety tradeoffs are clear from our new tests." Even though small vehicles have become safer in recent years thanks to features like airbags and advanced seatbelts. Those same technologies are also used in larger vehicles, the Institute said. All else being equal, occupants of a smaller vehicle will fare worse in a crash than those in a bigger one because of differences in weight as well as the lack of extra crushable metal to absorb the impact. When a heavier object runs into a lighter one, the heavier object is more prone to keep traveling in its own direction while the smaller one gets bounced backwards, resulting in a much more severe impact for its occupants. Car vs. car In the case of the Honda Fit, which was crashed into a Honda Accord, the Fit's crash test dummy's head hit the steering wheel through the airbag, and showed a high likelihood of leg injury as well. There was also significant crushing of the Fit's passenger compartment. The larger Accord's passenger compartment held up well, and the likelihood of injury was low, the Institute said. In a crash with a Toyota Camry, the Toyota Yaris's door was "largely torn away" the Institute said. In both cars, the crash test dummy's head struck the steering wheel through the airbag, but only in the Yaris did that result in a serious likelihood of injury. The test dummy in the Yaris also suffered extensive crash forces on the the neck and leg as well as a deep gash in the right knee. The ultra-small Smart ForTwo was knocked into an airborne 450-degree spin when it was smashed into a Mercedes-Benz C-class sedan. (Smart and Mercedes-Benz are both products of Germany's Daimler AG (DAI).) That contributed to "excessive movement" of the dummy inside, the Institute said. Injuries, especially to the head and legs, would be likely in a crash like this. "The Smart is the smallest car we tested, so it's not surprising its performance looked worse than the Fit's," Lund said in the statement. "Still both fall into the poor category, and it's hard to distinguish between poor and poorer." Manufacturer's respond Toyota (TM), Smart USA and Honda (HMC) all took issue with the Insurance Institute's test, calling it an unrealistic portrayal of real-world crashworthiness. "The test used an extremely high crash severity which is unlikely to occur in real world crashes," Smart spokesman Ken Kettenbiel said in a statement. "In fact, less than one percent of all crashes fall within these parameters." Despite accounting for relatively few real-world crashes, front impacts like those depicted in the test account for roughly half of all occupant deaths in car crashes, said Insurance Institute spokesman Russ Rader. Honda also called the test conditions "unusual and extreme," but said that it is concerned with the role of vehicle size differences. The carmaker says it does its own extensive testing on car-to-car impacts like these. In all respects besides vehicle size, Rader said, the test mimics the same sort of crash tested in the standard barrier test. Therefore, for very small cars, this test may be even more realistic. "If you're in a mini-car or a micro-car, almost anything you hit is going to be larger," Rader said. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is a private group financed by insurance companies. A Honda Accord crashes into a Honda Fit. Toyota Camry crashes head-on with Toyota Yaris A Mercedes C-class crashes into a Smart ForTwo.
 
Joined
Jan 29, 2009
Messages
2,804
Location
NJ
Little car go SPLAT! Seriously though, 2 of the 3 are decent sized, now a smart car, whew, I don't want to get thrown around if I get hit! Every car should have that brake assist thing that volvo has.
 
Joined
Nov 21, 2005
Messages
935
Location
MI
There is one thing to be said here. When crashing a large vehicle into an immovable object the structure most absorb more energy than a smaller car just do to the greater mass causing more energy to be there. So this means larger cars are made to dissipate more energy in a crash than a smaller car. Such an accident that has more energy imparted than a crash into an immovable wall will cause more damage. This happen when a bigger vehicle is involved which imparts more energy. In other words maybe we should get past testing cars are speed and more to testing cars at energy level. This would mean that bigger cars would be tested at slower speed and lighter cars at higher speeds. There would be some base energy equivalent to a large passenger vehicle making a 5 star. This way in a crash both cars would be built to take the same amount of energy.
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2004
Messages
1,790
Location
Illinois
 Originally Posted By: strongt
From CNN: "The test used an extremely high crash severity which is unlikely to occur in real world crashes," Smart spokesman Ken Kettenbiel said in a statement. "In fact, less than one percent of all crashes fall within these parameters."
Maybe he thinks Smart drivers will only crash into other Smarts?
 
Joined
Mar 2, 2008
Messages
167
Location
ID, US
LOOK MOM ITS PHYSICS I don't think the automakers take into account offset frontal impacts nearly as much as full front impacts. Offset frontal impacts place an enormous amount of stress on a much smaller area. I've seen car's with their frames sliced like butter in offset frontal collisions. The same car probably scored 27 stars on a "full" frontal collision. No matter what the statistics say, I'm inclined to believe a a large percent of collisions are offset, and do not involve the full front of vehicles. I tend to believe most people try to avoid collisions.... which probably increases the chance of an offset collision. Who knew you should actually just run head on into a car if you think there is going to be a wreck?
 
Last edited:
Joined
May 27, 2003
Messages
1,565
Location
Elkridge, MD
I have to say, from these pictures, it really doesn't look like the Smart did all that badly. The Honda probably placed second and the Toyota looks just awful. Makes me rethink the line "I wouldn't be caught dead in a Yaris." Hmmm... I like this gem to: "Toyota (TM), Smart USA and Honda (HMC) all took issue with the Insurance Institute's test, calling it an unrealistic portrayal of real-world crashworthiness." Seriously, shut up. Every automaker does this, oh, our car got a meaningless 5-star safety rating, lets plaster it all over our marketing materials and talk about how (not) great we are. But as soon as a sliver of evidence that the rating is meaningless surfaces, the tests are "unrealistic" and they discredit them.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 29, 2009
Messages
2,804
Location
NJ
Actually the smart car is a lethal ride. If you goto youtube and look up the crash test hitting 50mph into a barrier, the smart car basically explodes into a pile of peices, flies about 25feet in a direction and lands. The frame of the vehicle is intact but the damage especially in the cabin for a "normal" sized person would be devastating. A short average person might be ok, but a taller, or larger person would be dead.
 
Joined
Apr 5, 2007
Messages
1,626
Location
usa
can't win , die from global warming or driving a small car . We're trading in both our YARII for a HUMMER . Watch out for here we come ! Gonna run all you little f*rt cars off the road . I've been converted . :- )
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 23, 2008
Messages
9,924
Location
Ontario, Canada
 Originally Posted By: mstrjon32
I have to say, from these pictures, it really doesn't look like the Smart did all that badly. The Honda probably placed second and the Toyota looks just awful. Makes me rethink the line "I wouldn't be caught dead in a Yaris." Hmmm... I like this gem to: "Toyota (TM), Smart USA and Honda (HMC) all took issue with the Insurance Institute's test, calling it an unrealistic portrayal of real-world crashworthiness." Seriously, shut up. Every automaker does this, oh, our car got a meaningless 5-star safety rating, lets plaster it all over our marketing materials and talk about how (not) great we are. But as soon as a sliver of evidence that the rating is meaningless surfaces, the tests are "unrealistic" and they discredit them.
Probably the normal offset crash tests should simulate hitting the "average" vehicle, so that all cars can dissipate the same amount of energy. The fixed speed test into a fixed barrier just makes the bigger vehicles tougher so they steal crush space from the smaller vehicles. The bigger vehicles have to dissipate more energy so they are tougher than the smaller cars. Probably a good short term fix would be to increase the crash test speed as the vehicle gets lighter, so the Yaris, etc do the same crash tests at 50mph as an F150 does at 40mph and Camry does at 45mph. This would make the Yaris tougher for its weight and do equal damage to bigger vehicles and using its own crush space and the bigger vehicle using its crush space. I drive a statistical death trap, but I try to always be aware of what's coming at me and ready to take evasive maneuvers. I imagine nearly all fatal accidents are preventable by either driver doing something different. Some are not of course but many of the accidents in my area were do to bad driving habits or techniques. Ian
 
Joined
Sep 23, 2008
Messages
9,924
Location
Ontario, Canada
 Originally Posted By: Anies
Actually the smart car is a lethal ride. If you goto youtube and look up the crash test hitting 50mph into a barrier, the smart car basically explodes into a pile of peices, flies about 25feet in a direction and lands. The frame of the vehicle is intact but the damage especially in the cabin for a "normal" sized person would be devastating. A short average person might be ok, but a taller, or larger person would be dead.
Do you mean the youtube video posted above? That was 70mph... I can't imagine any road car would keep the driver alive in that crash, and I think most cars would look more like an accordian than the smart car...
 
Joined
Jan 29, 2009
Messages
2,804
Location
NJ
Adding to the video link posted: You found the video, quick response. Yeah been about a year since I saw it, 20mph difference, my apologies. The car may be structurally intact for insurance purposes, but getting thrown around like that will cause severe injury. Just the sheer velocity of the impact you have an airbag in front of you and the rear seat slamming forward(as shown in the video). A larger vehicle may look like an accordian but you have a longer chassis, more material that could take the force and brunt of the impact. It's a double edged sword, more material to save you at the same time it could hurt you. Smart car has less material but more impact velocity.
 
Last edited:

Bill in Utah

Staff member
Joined
Nov 11, 2002
Messages
12,849
Location
UT
Ok, so what should I drive if I have a accident into one of these with a "safe" SUV? ---> Accident photo Bottom line, DON'T get into a accident! (DUH..) It is possible to drive for hundreds of thousands of miles and not get into one if you pay attention to everything around. I don't buy vehicles to get into accidents because you never can drive something that is totally "safe". There are trains, semis that will be bigger than you. Bill PS: As someone who investigates accidents, they are never as "clean" as a 40mph offset head-on or 30 mph into a barrier. They are much worst. \:\( Most (high 90s percentages) of accidents are preventable. By one or both parties.
 
Joined
May 27, 2003
Messages
1,565
Location
Elkridge, MD
 Originally Posted By: Anies
Actually the smart car is a lethal ride.
Still looks better than the Yaris or the Fit... The passenger compartment on the Yaris completely collapsed on itself.
 
Top