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Campatibility Problems of Small and Large Passenger Cars in Head on Collisions
Published November 04, 1991 by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in United States
Road accidents may involve collisions between vehicles of different weights under a variety of circumstances. It is rare for vehicles of equal weight to collide. The range of vehicle curb weights (masses) extends from less than 700 kg (e.g VW Polo) to over 2,000 kg (e.g. Daimler Benz, S-class). In accordance with the impact laws of mechanics, the consequences of collision involving smaller and larger vehicles are mostly more serious for the driver and passengers of the smaller vehicle. In the past, it has not always been possible to completely quantify the seriousness of accidents or the risk of being injured or killed in Germany because there is no direct link between vehicle mass and the seriousness of passenger injuries. All that is available at present is a study by an insurance association based on single accident cases. This analysis covered front-seat passengers using seat belts as well, but not only the drivers.
An American study estimates the risk of being killed in an accident in a small car (subcompact) very generally as being 8 times higher than the risk in a larger vehicle (fullsize car). Examining cars of different masses and of equal masses involved in accidents (comparison between vehicles weighing 900 kg and vehicles weighing 1,600 kg) on the basis of the FARS (Fatal Accident Reporting System), note a ratio of 2:1 for the risk of being fatally injured in a small car as against the risk of being fatally injured in a larger vehicle. However, the results of US studies cannot always be translated to European conditions, since America's car population is quite different from the European on account of the large number of extremely large vehicles on US roads.
A Swedish study by FOLKSAM Insurance~which also included single-car accidents~found that drivers of 800 kg vehicles have an injury frequency twice as high as that of 1,400 kg vehicles.
Following an evaluation of the accident data for North-Rhine/Westphalia now available for research purposes and extended to include automotive features, it is now possible to obtain results for the "compatibility" problem in Germany and in the car population involved in accidents here. First results were published in 1991 Safety in Small and Large Passenger Cars. The study is concerned with the seriousness of injuries focused to car drivers involved in accidents with on-coming traffic