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Mini Cars Seriously Unsafe During Crash

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Image of Honda Fit following IHHS crash test

Only One Mini Car Passes Safety Test

They might seem like a good purchase when it comes to gas savings and perhaps even their “cuteness factor”.  However, mini cars such as the Honda Fit or Fiat 500, are not very good when it comes to safety.  In fact, in a recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently tested a selection of mini cars for their safety in an crash.  Unfortunately, both the Fiat and the Fit were the worst performers of the bunch, with both collapsing under the pressure of a crash.  Only one mini car, the Chevy Spark, scored an “acceptable” score in the crash tests.

The Utility of the Small Overlap Test

The IHHS conducted a specific type of crash situation to test these vehicles: the small overlap test.  The small overlap test looks at what happens when only the front corner of a vehicle is struck, as this is one of the most common types of car accidents that drivers will encounter (e.g. veering into a tree, clipping the corner of a car in traffic, hitting the side of a building or railing).  Specifically, 25% of a vehicle’s front corner is crashed into a rigid barrier at 40 mph in the small overlap test.  The most dangerous aspect of mini cars is the fact that none of them held up structurally when tested, which can lead to driver and passenger injuries.

Steering Column and Restraint Systems in Mini Cars Two of the Biggest Problems

Two of the most pertinent problems with mini cars in a crash situation are the response of the steering column and the restraint systems (e.g. seat belts).  In some cases, the seat belts failed to hold the crash test dummy in place during the collision, or the dummy’s head missed or slid off of the airbag.  Other issues included the steering column moving sideways as a result of a collision.  Overall, because mini cars’ structurally do not hold up well in a crash, this drastically increases the likelihood of driver and passenger injury.  Indeed, not one of the crash test dummies came out unscathed from the small overlap tests.