As we become more advanced, we tend to pack more technology into smaller packages. Our tools for driving are becoming more efficient, such as built-in navigation systems, rear-view cameras, and voice-activated calling systems, yet the actual cars are becoming smaller and smaller. Cars such as the Mini Cooper, The Fiat, and the Smart Car are just a few tiny trending vehicles on the market right now.
However, while these compact carriers are cutting fuel costs, they could be increasing our chances of an accident. Extensive research has shown that small cars have repeatedly scored poorly on safety and crash ratings, leading to increased personal injury claims or death.
Compact Cars vs. Regular-Sized Cars
They might look sleek and they might be fun to drive, but according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, no other vehicle group has performed as poorly on a new crash tests as these mini cars.
In a crash test of 11 of the smallest cars on the market, only one vehicle received an acceptable rating. The rest received marginal or poor ratings in the study, providing evidence that supports a widely held notion that smaller cars are among the least safe on the road. A total of 6 earned the Institute’s lowest rating of “Poor” and 4 of them were deemed “Marginal”, the second-worst of four possible ratings. Vehicles in this study included:
- Nissan Versa
- Toyota Prius
- Hyundai Accent
- Mitsubishi Mirage
- Fiat 500
- Honda Fit
- Mazda 2
- Kia Rio
- Toyota Yaris
- Ford Fiesta
The Honda Fit and Fiat 500 finished at the bottom of the list. In both cars, the Institute says intruding structure seriously compromises the driver’s space, and the steering column is pushed back toward the driver.
The Honda Fit’s crash test saw the dummy’s head barely contacted the frontal airbag before sliding off and hitting the instrument panel. During the test of the 500, the driver door opened after the hinges tore. An open door creates a risk that the driver could be partially or completely ejected.
Small Cars and Personal Injury Claims
Evidently, the more unsafe the car, the more likely of an accident causing injury or death. According to the Insurance Institute’s Highway Safety’s data, a driver is up to twice as likely to die in a small car as in a midsize, just one step up the size scale. Compact cars accounted for nearly 24% of occupants killed in one- and two-vehicle crashes.
And as for insurance claims, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said its research demonstrated that the vehicles with the highest injury claims tend to be small cars. Personal injury, medical payment and bodily injury payouts are significantly higher for small cars than other vehicle classes.
Among the worst vehicles for personal injury are the Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, and Toyota Yaris. The Highway Loss Data Institute compared insurance data for the 2009-2011 model years and found Yaris occupants filed personal injury claims 28.5 times for every 1,000 of the vehicles the industry insured. The Kio Rio had 24.9 injuries per 1,000 insured vehicles.
There are several precautions you can take when operating a vehicle, such as knowing the rules of the road, not using a cell phone and being aware of your surroundings. When it comes to shopping for a car, make sure you always do your research about safety.
No matter the car you drive, document all the necessary information following a car accident such as time, date, and location of accident, other driver’s car and license information and damages/injuries.