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Is your dream car the best option for you?

By Ken Gibson on September 15, 2020

Have you ever debated between buying the car of your dreams and getting the most affordable option instead? Have you given up your goal of off-roading adventures in a jeep and bought a pickup for work?   Or did you choose the SUV to keep up with your growing family, instead of the Mustang you really wanted?

Well, beyond the obvious pros and cons of these choices, each of these vehicles also brings its own safety risks and rewards if you are ever in an accident. But how do know what those safety risks are so that you can make an even more informed decision?

How to research a car’s safety rating?

As background, every vehicle has to go through extensive testing before it can be sold to the public. Some tests are conducted internally within car companies, and two independent organizations also test every vehicle for crash ratings: the government agency known as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the privately operated Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Both outside testing entities have their own methods for reviewing safety features, but they generally overlap in how they rank vehicles during an accident. This information is readily available to you at the NHTSA’s 5-Star Safety Ratings Program and the IIHS’s Testing Protocols, both of which explain how they test each vehicle and rank them for consumers. The NHTSA also provides their results to Safecar.gov, which allows drivers to quickly look up the test results of a vehicle before purchasing one.

Common scenarios that these organizations test for include performance during side-impact collisions, or T-bones, during head-on collisions, and during rear-end accidents. The NHTSA also looks at what happens during rollover collisions, while the IIHS tests for roof strength.

Interestingly, how a vehicle ranks in these tests often later shows up in its marketing. A vehicle that tests well in all categories by the IIHS may receive the “Top Safety Pick+ Award,” which you will see mentioned in advertising. You can also spot NHTSA ratings on car windows at most dealerships.

All of this is to say: it’s fairly easy to find out how different vehicles will handle during collisions. And we at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys hope you will find out and then weigh the safety risks and rewards of a potential car purchase, along with your other considerations, in case you are ever in an accident.

How would your car hold up in a collision?

Here is some general information about each type of vehicle to help you do that. But again, more details about specific makes and models can be found at the IIHS’s current rankings, which breaks down test results based on the size of the vehicle, and the Safecar’s current rankings, which provides safety ratings based on the vehicle type.

Sedans

Because sedans are the most popular vehicles on the road, they usually offer the most design varieties, so you should review information about the specific make and model you’re considering.

However, sedans generally test well in collisions with similar-sized vehicles, while smaller vehicles like motorcycles fare less well in a collision with sedans.

But it’s important to know that, in most cases, the smaller vehicle usually takes the brunt of the force in crashes with larger vehicles, and that includes the sedan. This means that, according to the University of Buffalo, passenger occupants in small vehicles, like sedans and vans, are 10 times more likely to die in head-on collisions with SUVs because the SUV is larger. So, given the number of SUVs on the road today, you will want to consider how well a new sedan tests in head-on collisions.

Minivans

Despite being larger than sedans, minivans tend to handle similarly to them. However, although they may get compared with SUVs, minivans are far less likely to roll over in a collision than an SUV, and minivans typically can absorb the impact of a similarly-sized vehicle.

SUVs

Although they are marketed similarly to minivans as “family vehicles,” SUVs are more top-heavy and significantly larger, meaning they can absorb more damage in a collision.

But being top-heavy means SUVs are also more prone to rollovers. That’s because the engine is higher off the ground than standard passenger vehicles. This is why manufacturers take extra care to improve an SUV’s roof strength. If you are ever in a rollover accident in an SUV, they are trying to prevent you and your passengers from being fatally injured. That being said, SUVs do fairly well in collisions with lighter vehicles such as sedans, as mentioned before.

Pickups

Historically speaking, most trucks were not required to meet the same standards as other vehicles until 1999. That means widespread testing of them is limited to a little more than 20 years, and older truck models may not have the same safety features as newer ones.

In fact, very few modern pickups have achieved high rankings in crash tests, although they are improving, according to a recent report from the IIHS. The greatest concern that pickup drivers should know is that, while a truck can handle head-on collisions very well, passengers in the backseats may absorb the majority of the force in a crash, leading to serious passenger injuries.

Muscle Cars

Last of all, we look at the car you may have always wanted: the muscle car. While you may be able to afford a Mustang or a Charger today, you should know that they do not stack up well in head-on collisions, especially for the driver. The IIHS has noted that in collisions with poles or trees, drivers are more likely to suffer fatal injuries in these types of cars, according to Marketwatch.

Do manufacturing defects also cause wrecks?

Beyond knowing general safety information about different types of vehicles, it’s also important to know that all vehicles can have manufacturing defects. While the majority of car accident cases are caused by and based on negligent driving, such as distracted or drunk driving, manufacturing defects can play a role in causing injuries too.

For example, if another driver’s car has a tire blowout and hits you, you might blame the driver for poor maintenance. But what if the tires were new and recently installed? What if the driver had no signs of negligence? In this situation, we would need to pay attention to the tire itself because it may have had a manufacturing defect.

As we’ve discussed, every vehicle has its own features that can contribute to an accident, such as SUVs being prone to rollovers or roof collapses. Manufacturers are aware of these issues, and they should make every effort to ensure their vehicles are as safe as possible.

That responsibility extends to identifying defective parts, unsafe designs, and manufacturing errors before a driver ever gets behind the wheel. If manufacturers don’t do this, their vehicles can and do directly cause serious accidents.

If you are in a wreck, we can help you get answers and get you compensated

If you or someone you love is ever injured by a negligent driver or because of an auto defect or shortcoming, you should not hesitate to reach out to us at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. We are Virginia car accident attorneys who have handled numerous car accident claims successfully for our clients and have the case results to back up our experience.

We can launch an in-depth investigation into your accident, during which we may discover that the other driver was texting during the collision. Or we may find that the driver was acting responsibly, and the accident was caused by a defective brake or another well-known issue with that vehicle. What ever the cause of the accident and your resulting injuries, we can get to the heart of the issue and aggressively pursue compensation from the at-fault party or parties. To learn how we can help, call us at (804) 413-6777 or toll-free at (855) 781-6777.

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Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.

  • Safety Education
    GibsonSingleton launches a “Texts=Wrecks” campaign to reduce the number of people injured or killed by distracted drivers.
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    During the fall, our team works to distribute coats to people in need in our community.
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    John and Ken join the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in cleaning up the community.
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    The Gibson family participates in Gloucester’s Botetourt Elementary Shuffle fundraiser.