Drivers in West Virginia and around the country will likely know that size and weight can matter a great deal in a crash, but they may be surprised to learn just how much safer large and heavy vehicles actually are. The Insurance Institute for Highway safety is a nonprofit road safety advocacy group supported by auto insurers, and in 2009 it decided to find out how vehicle size and weight impacted accident survivability rates.
Prior to the 2009 IIHS crash tests automobiles of different sizes and weights had rarely been used in accident simulations. Safety testing was usually done using similar vehicles or stationary objects. The IIHS discovered that accident fatality rates in smaller cars was about twice as high as they were in full-sized sedans and SUVs, but traditional testing using similar vehicles or concrete blocks or barriers had found that added automotive bulk provided only a slight safety advantage.
The advantages of size and weight in car crashes can be put down to basic physics. Heavier objects strike with greater force and cause more damage, and smaller vehicles have less space to absorb impacts and protect passengers. However, advances in vehicle safety technology have made many of today’s smaller and more fuel efficient cars almost as safe as the automotive behemoths of decades passed.
Even a vigilant driver behind the wheel of a large car, pickup truck or SUV equipped with the latest safety features may be vulnerable to drunk, distracted or reckless drivers. The overwhelming majority of auto accidents involve some kind of human error, and experienced personal injury attorneys may seek to hold negligent motorists responsible for the harm that they have caused. Lawsuits filed on behalf of accident victims may seek compensation for their medical bills and other expenses, lost wages and property damage.