Side crashes account for around a quarter of car deaths in the United States, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
For the first time, the independent safety organization crash tested small cars with a newer, heavier barrier, in order to determine how safe some models are in collisions with today’s bigger and faster trucks and SUVs. Experts say the results surprised them.
Eleven small cars were put to the test to see how well they could stand up to a side impact crash.
“We expected small cars to struggle in this test, but that simply was not the case,” said IIHS President David Harkey.
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Harkey says this is the first time the small cars were tested with its new larger, faster barrier.
“The vehicles are much heavier that are striking other vehicles and they’re also occurring at higher speeds,” said Harkey.
While all 11 of the same car models received good ratings using the old barrier, this time only seven cars received a good or acceptable rating, with the mazda three topping the list.
The Kia Forte and Subaru models were rated poor.
Harkey says small cars performed better than some of the more popular suv classes earlier this year, in the same test.
“I would not hesitate to purchase one of these one of these vehicles,” said Harkey.
IIHSscientists look at how well the structure of the vehicle stays in tact, the potential for injuries to the passengers and how well the side airbags work when determining ratings for tested cars.