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Minivans may not be safest choice for preventing crash injuries

As a heavily populated region, Northern Virginia is home to countless different types of vehicles. Residents of Arlington and Fairfax may be used to seeing compact "smart cars" zip through the region's more urban corridors, while the interstates regularly feature huge semi-trucks, commercial vehicles, and many other types of vehicles. Some residents choose their vehicles based on car crash safety ratings; as a result, many individuals and families prefer SUVs and minivans. Often known for their relatively high safety ratings, minivans may not be as safe as some consumers assume.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, minivans in particular may not prove as safe as their reputation indicates. The institute, which is based out of Arlington, recently said that minivans may be at a disadvantage when it comes to a certain type of crash test. The test, known as the "small overlap" test, replicates an auto accident in which the front corner of a car collides with something at a speed of 40 miles per hour. The institute noted that several well-known minivans garnered the lowest rating on this type of test, with the Honda Odyssey being the lone exception.

The institute noted that the type of crash the test replicates is severe, and they were surprised at how poorly many of the minivans did on the tests. Minivans' design may be at fault for the potential for injuries in these types of crashes, as the car platforms upon which they are built are narrower than the vans themselves. This type of design leaves areas incapable of absorbing a crash's impact. In addition, a minivan tends to be bulkier than a car and is thus able to cause more damage.

Any type of car is vulnerable to a crash caused by the negligence of another, but some cars may be more vulnerable. The medical expenses that result from a crash can be substantial, and car accident victims may need to discuss any suspected failings of car safety with a personal injury attorney.

Source: WPXI.com, "Minivans perform poorly in new crash tests," Nov. 20, 2014

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