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Size matters when it comes to auto safety

Drivers of larger and heavier cars in Pennsylvania and across the United States are more protected in case of accidents than those who travel subcompact vehicles. According to crash test statistics compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the driver of a Honda Civic runs a greater risk than the driver of a Honda Ridgeline should they meet in a head-on collision.

Since 2009, the IIHS has been testing the crash resistance of several vehicle models popular in the U.S. The results of these collision tests show that the size and weight of cars are important factors in terms of providing protection to drivers and passengers. The tests featured very small automobiles such as the Honda Fit against compact and mid-size sedans such as the Toyota Yaris and the Camry. Each of these tests showed that larger and heavier cars were safer for occupants in case of road traffic accidents.

As can be expected, the IIHS also reports that serious injury and death are more likely to happen when smaller vehicles are involved; however, there are some exceptions. Over the years, Saturn models such as the View and the Sky have earned impressive crash safety ratings despite being lightweight cars. These vehicles have plastic side panels attached to a chassis called the "space frame," which provides adequate impact resistance. Likewise, plug-in electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf are heavier due to their batteries and electric power train components, and thus they tend to fare better in crash testing despite being compact cars.

The size and weight of a car could be factors used by personal injury attorneys when they handle car accident cases on behalf of their clients. Negligent drivers can cause more damage and greater injuries when they operate trucks or SUVs; this argument could work in favor of car accident victims who file personal injury claims as they seek compensation for medical expenses and lost wages.

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