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Size Does Matter: Motor Vehicle Impact Results

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (“IIHS“) is an independent, nonprofit, scientific, and educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses — deaths, injuries, and property damage — from crashes on the nation’s highways. ** ...wholly supported by auto insurers.

The IIHS’ reported in their Special Issue on Car Size, Weight, and Safety:

  • “Reflecting Newton’s laws of motion, the results confirm the lesson that bigger, heavier cars are safer.”
  • SIZE-“When a car crashes into a solid barrier, the outcome depends in part on the size of the front end.  If one car’s front end is long enough to crush twice as much as another car’s in a barrier crash at the same speed, its restrained occupants will experience half as much force as the people in the smaller car because it takes them twice as long to stop.
  • WEIGHT- “When two cars going the same speed crash front to front, the outcome depends in part on the cars’ relative weights. The heavier car will push the lighter car backward during the impact, which means the velocity change of the heavier car will be much less than that of the lighter car.  If the lighter car weighs half as much as the heavier car, the forces on its occupants will be twice as great.”
  • PHYSICS-“Dictate crash outcomes.” The poor performance of all three micro and mincars in frontal impacts with midsize cars isn’t surprising. It reflects the laws of the physical universe, specifically principles related to force and distance.”
  • “The greater the change in velocity, the greater the forces on the people inside and the higher the risk of injury.”

It amazes me when I talk to insurance adjusters and they do not reference the research they pay for. I know the title and article imply common sense but that is not what insurance companies use in negotiating claims.  They like to talk about property damage as a direct correlation to injuries.  Obviously their own research proves them wrong. Imagine that!