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Side-Impact Crash Data Reveals Disturbing Discrepancies

A recent study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found a startling difference between the protection provided by cars with a “good” side-impact crash rating and cars with a “poor” crash rating. A car’s side-impact rating may mean the difference between life and death for passengers if their car is hit on the side.

Of course, one would expect a difference between quality ratings, otherwise they would be fairly meaningless. The problem is the severity of the injuries sustained in a side-impact crash in a car with a poor rating, versus the relative safety a car with a good rating provides. In fact, someone in a car with a poor side-impact crash rating is three times more likely to die as a result of a side-impact crash than someone in a vehicle with a good rating.

The IIHS test focused on the effectiveness of a vehicle’s structure in the event of a side-impact crash-not the side airbags, which are still optional safety measures. The IIHS installed side airbags in all cars to isolate the effectiveness of a car’s structure. Although side airbags are important measures for protection and help absorb the initial impact of a motor vehicle accident, the structural integrity of a vehicle ultimately determines the severity of the damage done to the car and its passengers.

Between 2000 and 2001, 51 percent of all traffic fatalities occurred in side-impact crashes, up 30 percent since the 1980s. This disturbing statistic reveals the importance of considering crash ratings when purchasing a new vehicle. Many dealerships use front and rear crash ratings as selling points, but since side-impact crashes account for the majority of fatalities, asking about side ratings for vehicles is also important when hunting for a new car.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a side-impact accident consult with a knowledgeable motor vehicle accident attorney who can provide information about your rights and options.