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Is it safer to drive a larger vehicle?

One thing that you may look at when you’re shopping for a new vehicle is the crash test rating. You certainly don’t plan to be involved in an accident. But you also know that other drivers cause them all the time, so you want a vehicle that will keep you safe if it should happen.

Crash test ratings are applied to vehicles of all classes. You can find a small coupe with a high rating or you can find a large SUV or a pickup truck with a similar rating. This may surprise you, because it feels like a larger vehicle would offer more protection. Is this true?

The influence of weight and height

The reality is that the size of a vehicle is going to play a role in the severity of injuries during a crash. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t trust the crash test ratings. They are helpful when comparing vehicles in similar classes. But it is still true that being in a taller and heavier vehicle will generally keep you safer than being in a smaller and lighter vehicle.

Why is this true? It’s just physics. Energy transfers between both vehicles in the event of a crash. It tends to transfer from the larger vehicle into the smaller one, leading to the people in that smaller vehicle having a greater chance of suffering serious injuries. 

Height also makes a difference because large vehicles impact smaller ones closer to the passenger compartment. A very small vehicle could also get involved in a dangerous underride accident, where it becomes pinned under the larger vehicle. 

What if you are injured in a crash?

It is important to consider safety when buying a car, but it’s also true that people can be injured in any vehicle – of any size. If another driver causes an accident, you may need to seek compensation for your injuries.