Small Car Safety: What are the Dangers of Driving Small Cars Long Distance

January 27, 2012

Smaller cars have a number of advantages over larger vehicles. They generally cost less to purchase, are easier to park and cost less at the pump. The main concern, however, is small car safety how safe these cars are compared to larger vehicles, especially on long trips.

When driving in town, safety is much less of a concern, as the speeds are usually fairly low. But a long trip typically involves highway driving where the speeds people drive at are much higher. Such trips can often involve two-lane highways, which are the most dangerous as there is no division between oncoming traffic. How then, then do small and large cars compare in terms of safety?

Small cars have much less mass than a larger vehicle, such as a pickup or SUV. Because of this, there is less inertia (lighter objects will stop and accelerate quicker than heavier ones). Less inertia means more force transferred to the occupants in a collision, potentially resulting in additional injury and a higher risk of fatality. The addition of airbags has helped to mitigate this to some degree, however some risk still remains. Due to their size, small cars also have less of a crumple zone. The purpose of the crumple zone is to absorb impact energy to minimize the amount that is transferred to the occupants of the vehicle. The crumple zone is also designed to give way so the passenger section remains intact. However, once the crumple zone is fully compacted, the passenger section is at risk of collapse, which may result in occupants becoming trapped or crushed.

In spite of this, small cars are still reasonably safe to drive. Overall, the fatality rate for small vehicles is not too different from that of larger vehicles. Reason being is that larger vehicles have a higher center of gravity, which makes them much more prone to rolling over in a accident. Smaller vehicles are much more like to remain upright in a collision. Because of this, neither small nor large cars have any particular advantage when it comes to safety.

Regardless of a vehicle's safety feature's, it is ultimately the driver that determines how safe a vehicle is. Drivers who are intoxicated, distracted or extremely tired are considerably more likely to get into a collision. In the end, it does not necessarily matter the size of the vehicle you drive, but how you drive it. It is important to remain alert, keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel at all times. It is imperative that you are not under the influence alcohol or any drug. Driving intoxicated puts you and others at great risk. Be sure to get plenty of sleep as well. Lastly, make sure you are not distracted. Texting or talking on a cell phone while driving is a very dangerous activity. If you absolutely must talk on your phone, plan for a stop somewhere along your route where you can talk or use a hands-free device.

All in all, there is not any significant difference in the size of a vehicle in comparison to safety. The ultimate safety factor is the driver, and if you follow the guidelines mentioned, your trip will carry far less risk with it. Be safe, and enjoy your trip.

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