Various vehicle sizes in traffic

Road Collision Fatalities Vary by Car Size

Several factors play into the severity of an auto accident. Variables such as the rate of speed a car was traveling and the size and weight of the vehicles involved vastly impact the ability of a vehicle to sustain an impact and protect its passengers. While drivers may prefer a particular vehicle size for many different reasons, Consumer Reports data suggests vehicle size preference could have a tremendous impact on the severity of potential Houston motor vehicle collisions.

Auto manufactures are required by law to design and test their vehicle models for crashworthiness. This testing involves a thorough examination of a vehicle’s safety performance in the event of a collision, most importantly its ability to protect all of its passengers. For good reason, many consumers select a vehicle based on its overall safety rating. While all vehicles undergo safety scrutiny, some vehicles still protect occupants and decrease fatalities better than others.

Impact of Size

Minivans, SUVs, and pickup trucks report lower death rates per million cars registered (in their category) due to their physical size and weight. Their body size allows them to absorb and disperse the impact of a collision, maintain the body frame, and protect passengers. Weight allows the vehicle to maintain force; however, size is not always a safety benefit.

While larger vehicles can sustain collision damage better than smaller vehicles, they don’t necessarily protect passengers from harm. In fact, some smaller vehicles perform better in safety tests and actual accidents than larger vehicles. Vehicle design can actually cause an accident as well as increase the severity of the impact and associated injuries.

One of the most dangerous accidents a driver can be involved in is a rollover, which causes a vehicle to flip and roll over on itself. Larger vehicles – such as SUVs, pickup trucks, and 18-wheelers – are more susceptible to rollover accidents because of their vehicle size and weight. These larger vehicles are typically tall and narrow in design, causing the weight distribution to be top-heavy. Even the most minor driving maneuver could cause an unstable vehicle to lose balance and roll. According to the National Highway Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation, nearly 90% of fatal rollover accidents occurred as the result of routine driving maneuvers and 85% of fatal rollover accidents were single-vehicle accidents – meaning no other car was involved in the rollover.

While larger vehicles may be more difficult to control, it does not follow that smaller vehicles are the answer to driver safety concerns. Smaller vehicles share design similarities such as:

  • Lighter and less reinforced frames
  • Minimal hood and truck space
  • Compact cabin space
  • Shorter height

These design features help small cars travel faster and more efficiently, but they also decrease the vehicle’s ability to protect its occupants. Smaller cars are more likely to be pushed and have their cabins crushed during impact. When a small passenger vehicle collides with a large truck or bus, the shorter cabin height and lightweight frame can cause the small vehicle to slide underneath the larger one during an accident.

 Houston Car Accidents Attorneys

Regardless of a vehicle’s weight and size, roadway accidents will still happen and vary in severity of injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a Houston car accident, you likely have questions. The team at Adame Garza is committed to listening to our clients to understand their needs so that we can pursue justice together as a team. There is a limited time to act following your accident in Texas, so don’t delay contacting us.