We have to give some credit to the folks at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety on their newest research. After condemning larger vehicles for causing more damage to small cars (e.g. HUMMER H3 vs Hyundai Sonata), the IIHS has now had the time to realize that more damage means more bodily injury, and only after more testing come the brilliant conclusion that smaller cars, especially mini-cars, aren’t all that safe.
The IIHS put three vehicles, the Honda Fit, Smart Fortwo, and Toyota Yaris up against a mid-size car. Not a full-size car, not a mid-size truck or SUV, not a full-size truck or SUV. That’s fine, though – the footage is gruesome enough (video below), you can imagine what would happen against a larger opponent.
We’ve heard the shape of Smart Cars is what makes them so ‘safe,’ with statements like, “The egg-shaped cage along with the wheels at the corner are designed to act like the hard shell around a nut to keep the passenger compartment safe.” The IIHS testing confirms that you are indeed a nut if you drive a mini-car around larger vehicles.
“The Honda Fit, Smart Fortwo, and Toyota Yaris are good performers in the Institute’s frontal offset barrier test, but all three are poor performers in the frontal collisions with midsize cars,” says the IIHS. “These results reflect the laws of the physical universe, specifically principles related to force and distance.”
The crash statistics provided confirm this. According to the IIHS, the death rate in 1-3-year-old mini-cars in multiple vehicle crashes during 2007 was almost twice as high as the rate in very large cars. But even if all cars were tiny, they still shouldn’t be considered safe, since almost half of all crash deaths in mini-cars occur in single-vehicle crashes, such as running into a tree or parked car.
If a Smart car goes airborne and spins 450 degrees from hitting a midsize car, just imagine what would happen to the driver who was squashed between a cement truck and a semi. Yikes!