It does not take a genius to figure out that larger vehicles offer more protection in the event of a crash, but new studies reveal that safety goes far beyond that.
A new study by the University of Buffalo found that sticker price has a strong inverse correlation with injury claims. The study looked at the frequency and severity of personal injury claims related to 360 different vehicle models over a three-year span. For every thousand pounds of weight on the vehicle, personal injury claims made by their drivers decreased by an astonishing 19%. But we could have guessed that. It makes sense. When an enormous Dodge Ram crashes into a Mazda Miata, the driver of the Ram certainly has a much higher chance to be ok than the driver of the Miata. We don't need a rocket scientist to tell us that. It's true for a variety of reasons. For one, there is simply more space between the point of impact and the person. For another, that space is occupied by more material to absorb the blow in the larger vehicle. Finally, the height that the vehicle sits at plays a huge role. Typically, the car with the higher bumper wins, bumpers are designed to absorb impact. A door will usually cave in more than a bumper will when the two come into direct contact. This problem is made worse when the lower-sitting vehicle is braking. When you brake, the nose of your car points down, making it potentially even more likely that the higher-bumper vehicle will come into contact with a relatively fragile portion of your vehicle. But we can assume much of this.
The part of the study that is so fascinating is that the price of a vehicle protects the occupant whether or not the vehicle is larger and heavier. For every $10,000 you spend on a car, injuries decrease by 12%. It begs the question as to whether the more expensive vehicles are better prepared for impacts even when they may or may not score better in standard crash tests, or whether the drivers of more expensive vehicles are somehow avoiding some of the more serious car accidents where more devastating injuries would surely occur.
Either way, it is important to do whatever possible to stay safe on the road. If that means spending more on a vehicle, it's worth it.
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