Auto Safety

Small Car Safety: Are Small Cars Less Safe Than Larger Ones


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With so many large vehicles on the road today, small car safety has become an increasing concern. How safe are you in a small car? There are a number of factors which affect your safety in a small car. The year in which the car was made is one of those factors. Older cars have less safety features compared to cars today. Prior to the 1980s, there were no airbags, or anti-lock brakes.

Another factor is inertia. Inertia is a measure of an object’s ability to resist a change in its velocity. This factor is based on a vehicle’s mass. This is why a larger vehicle requires more power, distance, and time to come to a stop from 60 miles per hour. Small cars have lower inertia than large vehicles. This allows them to stop faster and react quicker than their larger counterparts. These traits can help you avoid an accident.  

A small car’s safety features also affect their ability to protect you. Every car manufactured today has airbags and anti-lock brakes. Airbags along with seatbelts help protect you in a crash. Most cars have driver and passenger side airbags today. Side door airbags were introduced in the Volvo car safety initiative. Anti-lock brakes were invented to help you to avoid accidents. Anti-lock brakes prevent the wheels from locking during hard braking. This allows you to get maximum stopping power while maintaining steering control so you can steer clear of an obstacle.

The largest danger with small cars is not a lack of safety features, but the other vehicles on the road with you. A small car on the road with 18 wheelers and SUV’s doesn’t stand much of a chance in an accident with either vehicle. As vehicle size increases, so does the amount of energy it has while traveling at a specific speed. This energy is also a function of the amount of mass the vehicle has. This means that an SUV traveling at 60 mph has a lot more energy than a small car traveling at the same speed. What happens to that energy if the small car is hit by the SUV? The small car has to absorb some of the energy and the rest gets converted to heat.

Stability and height are other factors which affect small cars. A low-to-the-ground auto usually has a low center of gravity. This means that during hard cornering and heavy maneuvers the vehicle is less likely to flip over. Large vehicles, such as SUVs and 18 wheelers, have a much higher center of gravity and can flip over during hard maneuvers.  The height difference between small cars and large cars also affect small car safety. Since people in large cars, such as SUV’s, sit higher than those in smaller cars, it is easier for them to miss things. SUV’s also have larger blind spots which can further impede a driver’s judgment.

Small car safety has come a long way from the little cars of yesterday. In their own separate arenas, small cars are usually safer than larger cars. The largest issues arise when the worlds of these two vehicles collide on the open road. This is when driver experience, proper space cushions, research, and common courtesy can increase a small car’s safety.

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