Head-On in a Minicar
Minicars are great on gas but if you get into an accident there likely will be a tradeoff on safety.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety took three minicars and slammed them into midsize automobiles in three separate road tests. What they found and issued in a report today was that the Honda Fit, the Toyota Yaris and the Smart Fortwo fared poorly in the 40 mph collisions.
The midsize cars did either well or acceptably.
The Honda Fit was driven head-on into the Honda Accord, the Toyota Yaris collided with a Toyota Camry, and the Smart Fortwo hit a Mercedes C-Class. In that crash the Smart went airborne and spun around. It weighs half of the Mercedes.
Adrian Lund, the institute’s president tells the New York Times that “downsizing and down-weighting is also associated with an increase in deaths on the highway.”
Interestingly, small cars which are bigger than minis, had more deaths registered per million users than minicars. That might be because they are more often driven on highways.
The president of Smart USA says testing a collision with a head-on represents only a tiny fraction of real world accidents. As far as safety features, the car is equipped with front and side airbags, he says.
Minicars experienced a surge of popularity when gas prices recently shot up, but the safety versus weight argument also was reignited.
People who want to cut down on the production of carbon dioxide, which leads to global warming, is also a reason people buy minicars. Production of carbon dioxide is proportional to fuel use, reports the New York Times.
Saving Lives On The Road
No word on how many more traffic deaths will result from the number of minicars on the road, but the National Academy of Sciences reported in 2002 that cutting down on vehicle weight to comply with federal fuel standards resulted in 1,300 to 2,600 additional deaths in 1993, the most recent year statistics were gathered.
When the national speed limit was lowered to 55 mph in 1974, it saved thousands of barrels of fuel per day and about 2,000 to 4,000 lives annually due to the lower speeds and a reduction in travel, according to the Institute. #