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New crash tests showing weaknesses in front panels of cars

According to a report released recently by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, many midsize luxury and higher end cars are not as safe as previously thought. The revelation comes courtesy of a reengineered crash test model which evaluates how cars react to a crash to the front corners instead of focusing on head-on collisions.

Referred to by industry experts as overlap crashes, these types of accidents are responsible for about 10,000 traffic fatalities a year, yet haven’t been the focus of crash testing in the past. New testing models simulate overlap crashes in which a car collides with another car or nonmoving object on the only a portion of the front panel.

The primary energy absorbing structure is placed in the front center of the car and can be missed by small overlap collisions entirely, leaving the force to be absorbed by the more brittle parts of the car. Even in the case of a small overlap crash where only 25 percent of the car is impacted, the wheels, windshield pillars, dash, and door structures can collapse causing those elements to be pushed into the passenger compartment.

It may come as a surprise to many New Jersey consumers that cars that were previously thought to be very safe based on head-on collision test results are not considered less safe in the new simulations. The new collision test model will hopefully result in safer cars and fewer injuries and fatalities from overlap crashes.

Car manufacturers have a duty to design and sell reasonably safe cars. Cars that are not as safe as they purport to be or that have faulty parts may injure passengers and result in liability for the manufacturer. More information about this is available on our New Jersey personal injury website.

Source: ABC News, “Partial Collisions Prove More Dangerous in New Crash Test,” Jim Avila, August 14, 2012.

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