How Do Size and Weight Affect Vehicle Occupants in an Accident?

How Do Size and Weight Affect Vehicle Occupants in an Accident? While many people choose the type of vehicle they drive based on factors like fuel economy and the number of passengers they expect to carry on a regular basis, safety should also be a top consideration. The size and weight of a vehicle play a critical role in the outcome of an automobile accident.

Are Larger or Smaller Cars Safer?

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a bigger, heavier vehicle provides better protection in case of a crash than a smaller, lighter vehicle, absent any other differences between the vehicles. This is because there is more distance from the front of the vehicle to the occupants’ location in the vehicle in larger vehicles than there is in smaller vehicles. Additionally, occupants are subject to less force in heavier vehicles because they tend to continue moving forward in the event of a collision. The IIHS reports that crash deaths decline as vehicle size increases. For example, there were 459 driver deaths per million vehicles registered for vehicles that were 75 square feet in length, compared to 233 driver deaths per million vehicles registered for vehicles that were 115 square feet in length for the most recent four-year period reported.

Size of Car and Crash Impact

In comparing lighter vs. heavier vehicles, it is helpful to consider what happens when these two types of vehicles collide with each other. Heavier vehicles are better able to handle a crash than smaller vehicles because there is less force on the heavier vehicle. The heavier vehicle tends to push the lighter one backward during a collision. If you are in the smaller, lighter vehicle, you are more vulnerable to injury.

Other Factors that Affect the Outcome of a Crash

Other factors can affect the outcome of a crash, including:
  • The age of the vehicle – Newer cars tend to be safer than older model cars, according to the IIHS.
  • Safety features – Crash protection features like airbags, active head restraints, and automatic emergency braking can minimize injuries.
  • Seatbelt use – Seatbelts save over 15,000 lives every year.
  • Speed – Crashes involving higher speeds tend to cause more serious injuries and deaths than collisions at lower speeds.
  • Maintenance – The condition of the vehicle, such as whether the brakes activate quickly or the tires are properly inflated can also impact the outcome of a crash.
  • Angle – The angle that both vehicles are at can impact the type of injuries occupants sustain in car crashes.

 Types of Vehicles Men and Women Choose and Impact on Crash Safety

Women are up to 28 percent more likely to be killed in a traffic accident and up to 73 percent more likely to be seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident than their male counterparts, according to the IIHS. The IIHS largely attributes this discrepancy to the fact that women more often drive smaller and lighter vehicles while men are more likely to drive larger and heavier vehicles.

Our Attorneys Are Here to Help

While innovation in the automotive industry has led to significant advanced safety technologies, it has not been able to prevent all collisions. If you were injured in a car crash, the attorneys at Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, PLLC are here to help. We have over 50 years of combined legal experience and have recovered more than $125 million for our clients. Contact us today for a free case review.
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James Wayne Holliday

James Wayne Holliday has been practicing law since 1995. He has been named as a “Best Attorney” Lifetime Charter Member in Florida, an honor awarded to less than one percent of the nation’s lawyers.

Mr. Holliday has earned a reputation as a relentless trial lawyer because of his outstanding work ethic and thorough preparation of his cases for trial.

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