Are Small Cars Safe?

The answer to this question — like most questions in life — is “it depends.” In some cases, larger cars are safer and in other cases, smaller cars are safer. Understanding how the car industry has progressed over the years will help you determine whether your small car is a safe vehicle.

New Car Comparison

Physics has the ultimate authority over the debate between large versus small cars. When comparing larger versus smaller, newer vehicles, the larger, heavier vehicles will always be safer than smaller, lighter vehicles. This comparison strictly relates to newer vehicles. Larger vehicles that are new not only weigh more but have longer hoods and larger crash zones which gives them an advantage in a crash. Again, physics dictates that larger cars will push a lighter one backward in a crash, and therefore the smaller, lighter car will suffer more damage than the larger one. In fact, a 2015 study showed that motor vehicle accidents resulted in 13 deaths per million in SUVs compared to 64 deaths per million in mini cars.

Newer Smaller Cars versus Older Larger Cars

Important in the analysis of whether small cars are safe, is the fact that as technology has improved, so has safety in smaller cars. Therefore, when making a comparison between older cars that are large versus newer cars that are small, the statistics are surprising. Many people believe that an older “tank” type car would be sturdier and safer in a crash compared to a newer smaller car, however, the statistics paint a different picture.

Older cars are typically not equipped with side airbags or electronic stability control features (mandatory in all vehicles after 2012), which prevent serious and severe injuries of passengers in accidents. Additionally, with modern safety equipment installed in smaller cars along with automatic emergency braking and collision avoidance technology, smaller cars are more adept at avoiding collisions in the first place, making them even safer than older, larger cars.

Small Cars Today

Advances in engineering and improved safety features have led to smaller cars increasing their crashworthiness standards. Many small cars now receive exemplary crash-test scores from both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. As evidence of this, in 2015, the top vehicle choices for safety from the IIHS included over 20 small cars, including subcompact cars such as the Chevrolet Spark and Honda Fit.

While newer larger cars will have physics on their side in a crash, the technology and crash avoidance systems installed in smaller cars can make them even safer, by preventing crashes in the first place. Unless a smaller car is going up against a semi-truck, a large “tank” type car, or a brick wall, the smaller car will likely hold up similarly to a larger one.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one were in a car accident in a small car, you may have the right to receive compensation for your injuries. Contact The Law Office of Daniel A. Rose as soon as possible, and our experienced accident lawyers will help you build your personal injury case. Call for a free consultation today at 415-946-8900 or visit us online.