Car safety: overlap crashes

When consumers shop for a car, buyers often consider a vehicle's safety crash ratings. Many are willing to spend a little extra on a car that will protect passengers in the event of a car accident. However, did you know that many cars listed as "Top Safety Picks" are not as safe as you think?

Recently, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released data from a new crash test, which found that only three of 11 midsize luxury and near-luxury vehicles earned good or acceptable ratings in the overlap frontal crash test.

Overlap crashes are responsible for 25 percent of all fatal front-end collisions. The result of recent testing suggests that most vehicles are inadequate in keeping drivers protected in these crashes.

Overlap accidents mainly affect a car's outer edges. While most cars offer good protection in head-on collisions, experts say that this is not true for small overlap crashes.

According to the president of the Insurance Institute, frontal crashes kill 10,000 individuals per year. He adds, "When we look at why they are dying, it turns out small overlap crashes are a big part of that problem."

These days, cars are designed to absorb shock in the center. The key to protection in a car accident is a sturdy safety cage, which resists compression to maintain space for passengers. In a small overlap crash, which involves 25 percent of the front of the vehicle, the energy-absorbing structure in the middle is circumvented, causing car structures to compress into the car.

Fortunately, this problem is something that can be remedied. A couple of vehicles performed well in the test. For example, the Volvo S60's upper rails and a steel cross member below the instrument panel kept the safety cage intact in a small overlap crash. The solid safety ratings are likely attributed to Volvo's tests. Volvo has performed small overlap experiments as a part of its vehicle safety development process since the late 1980s.

Hopefully, automakers can observe designs of safer models and create similar cars, which protect occupants in these overlap crashes.

In just a few seconds, a car accident can change your life. Victims of car crashes sustain severe harm, which may result in medical treatment, time off work and expensive bills. If you have been injured in a serious car accident, you may want to contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. A lawyer can help you sort through the horrific aftermath of an accident.

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