Size Does Matter, IIHS Crash Tests Prove It

As most of us know by now, instinctively, the size of the car does matter in a crash. Now, IIHS brings proof that this is indeed so, as they conducted frontal crash tests using a microcar or a minicar and a midsize model from the same manufacturer. The crash tests revealed that extra vehicle size and weight enhance occupant protection in collisions.

The IIHS tested Honda Fit, Smart Fortwo, and Toyota Yaris by conducting frontal crash tests, instead of using its frontal offset barrier test. All of the three vehicles prove they are "poor performers in the frontal collisions with midsize cars".

Two physical factors are essential to what happens to occupants of a vehicle during a frontal crash. The weight of a vehicle determines how much the velocity of the car will change during an impact (the greater the change, the greater the forces on the people inside and the higher the injury risk).

On the other hand, the vehicle size (especially the distance between the front of the vehicle and the passenger cabin) determines how big the force exerted on the occupants is. The bigger the distance, the lower the forces on the occupants.

The test proved, once more, that the people in the smaller vehicle are at greater risk of injury than the ones in the bigger vehicle. The test confirm the crash statistics, which showed that the death rate in 1 to 3 year-old minicars in multiple-vehicle crashes during 2007 was almost twice as high as the rate in very large cars.

"Though much safer than they were a few years ago, minicars as a group do a comparatively poor job of protecting people in crashes, simply because they're smaller and lighter. In collisions with bigger vehicles, the forces acting on the smaller ones are higher, and there's less distance from the front of a small car to the occupant compartment to 'ride down' the impact. These and other factors increase injury likelihood," Adrian Lund, IIHS president said in a release.

Later today we will bring you the comparative crash test results, as found by IIHS by crashing Honda Accord with Honda Fit, Mercedes C Klasse with Smart Fortwo and Toyota Camry versus Toyota Yaris.
Updated on April 15th with videos here.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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