Side-impact collisions are responsible for one-quarter of passenger vehicle occupant deaths. That means more than 40 people are killed in Orange County each year in these accidents. Improvements in crash test techniques and safety standards are gradually addressing the problem. Understandably, though, many consumers are unwilling to wait for the entire auto industry to improve in this respect. Instead, concerned drivers are choosing to purchase makes and models of vehicles that rank best for side-impact resistance.
How can you know which vehicles offer the most protection from a side collision? The first step is to educate yourself about these accidents so that you understand why some vehicles withstand them better than others. Below you will find a description of the factors involved in side-impact injury crashes. We have also included examples of some of the best side-impact-resistant vehicles currently on the market.
If you have questions, or if you were hurt in a side-impact collision, contact Neale & Fhima for more information.
Why Side-Impact Collisions are So Dangerous
Accidents can happen anywhere. But on the surface streets of Southern California, more often than not they happen at intersections. And there is no shortage of intersections in this part of the state. The city of Los Angeles alone has nearly 4,600 intersections controlled by traffic signals. That many intersections creates plenty of opportunities for drivers to make mistakes and collide with cross-traffic.
During a T-bone collision, like the ones that happen at intersections, occupants of the vehicle being struck are extremely vulnerable. The sides of the passenger compartment are not protected by a “crumple zone” in the same way as the front and rear of the vehicle. In other words, there is little structural material on the sides of a vehicle to act as a buffer between the point of impact and the occupants inside. Consider the following:
Approximate Depth of Crumple Zones on a Mid-Size Sedan
|Crumple ZoneCrumple Zone||Depth (In Inches)|
(based on dimensions of the 2017 Kia Optima)
The overall shape of the automobile has not changed much in the last 100 years, and the industry is unlikely to abandon it any time soon. A lack of crumple zones along the sides of the passenger compartment will always be a problem. But car companies have begun to adopt new safety features designed for side-impact collisions. The most important of these, and one that becomes mandatory on vehicles this year, is the curtain airbag.
Curtain Airbags Help Prevent Head Injuries
Ordinary side airbags deploy from inside the door panels. These airbags protect a vehicle occupant’s torso area during a side collision. In years past, when most the vehicles on the road were cars, side airbags worked well because they are located at about the same height as the front end of the other vehicle in the accident.
Curtain airbags deploy from the door rails above the side windows. This newer type of airbag protects an occupant’s upper body and head in a side collision. Compared to ordinary side airbags, curtain airbags do a better job of absorbing impacts from SUVs, crossovers, and other tall vehicles. Driving a vehicle with curtain airbags is especially important since they guard against traumatic brain injury (TBI), a common form of catastrophic injury suffered in Orange County traffic accidents.
Examples of the Most Side-Impact-Resistant Vehicles
The vehicles listed below each received the highest available rating for side-impact resistance during crash testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- Full-Size Car – 2017 Toyota Avalon
- Large SUV – 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe
- Pickup Truck – 2017 Honda Ridgeline
You may notice that these vehicles have something else in common – they are all relatively large. This is not a coincidence. Bigger vehicles have bigger passenger compartments, which in and of itself can help protect occupants during a side-impact crash.
Learn About Your Rights Following a Vehicle Accident
If you or a loved one was injured in a traffic accident in Southern California, the vehicle accident lawyers at Neale & Fhima will consult with you for free. Call (888) 708-7013 or send us a message using the form below.