David Zuby, chief research officer for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ("IIHS"), notes that "the laws of physics always are in effect for cars." Given that scientific immutability, and all else being equal, a driver and his or her passengers will always fare better in a car accident if they are riding in a larger as opposed to a smaller vehicle.
These days, though, not all is equal, especially when it comes to a vehicle's crashworthiness and the tremendous strides that car manufacturers have made in small-car safety enhancements over the past several years. Although it would undoubtedly be far safer to negotiate Ohio's streets and highways with a tank, officially designated "small cars" now earn top safety ratings routinely and save a driver considerable money at the gas pump.
Zuby and other automobile crash experts exude actual excitement when discussing the dramatic turnaround in small car safety improvements from just a short time ago. In the most recent tests conducted annually by IIHS evaluators, in which "impact evaluations" measured a car's relative safety in front, side, rollover and rear-impact collisions, a number of small cars from several manufacturers scored top ratings from the institute. Several years ago, such a rating was a strong exception for a small car. (A list of results is available online).
"Each time we've introduced a new test, automakers have stepped up and improved designs," Zuby says. He adds that, "Consumers have never had a bigger selection of small cars that earn Top Safety Pick."
Related Resource: ABC News, "Will your car survive a crash test? Check out the top small car safety picks" May 26, 2011