According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), side crashes make up 25 percent of all vehicle occupant deaths in the United States. Passengers involved in side crashes experience such a high mortality rate partly due to the failure of government crash testing in the past. However, side impact testing conducted by the IIHS in the last decade has resulted in vast improvements in passenger safety.
Our auto accident attorneys know how side crashes can devastate the lives of families.
“Unlike the fronts and rears of vehicles, which allow crumple zones, there is very little protection on the sides a vehicle in the event of a collision,” says Bradley J. Prochaska, auto accident attorney. “There is no space to absorb the impact of a side collision, and not enough barrier to protect passengers. Impact testing in the past used outdated evaluation methods that failed to reflect real-world crash scenarios. It didn’t account for larger vehicles, or the size of the majority of passengers involved in accidents.”
The government’s crash testing system was developed in the 1980s when SUVs and pickup trucks were not as numerous as they are today. Crash testing used a moving barrier that was well below the dummy’s head, which didn’t accurately assess the risks of head injuries in collisions with larger vehicles. The passenger dummies were also too large, and were not representative of the women and children who are often killed as passengers in side impact collisions.
In 2003, IIHS started a comprehensive side testing program for passenger vehicles in accordance with the New Car Assessment Program. For the first time in the United States, smaller passenger dummies were used in order to properly analyze how to protect women and children. The IIHS also took into account the larger size of modern vehicles, and went more in-depth in finding ways to protect passengers in side crashes. Due to the innovations of IIHS side impact testing, the automobile industry has greatly improved passenger safety in the last 13 years. Side airbags have become standard in new passenger vehicles, and side structures have been made stronger for better passenger protection.
If you have been injured in a side impact collision, please contact Prochaska, Howell & Prochaska for a consultation. Our auto accident attorneys are ready to assist in your full recovery!