Are BMWs or Volvos safer vehicles

The bigger the car, the safer?


Are Big Cars Safer?

Large cars give the driver an increased feeling of security and are also considered safer than smaller cars. This is basically not wrong for the moment. Due to the larger vehicle dimensions and the larger vehicle mass, there are usually advantages in terms of occupant protection. But the bigger car is not always the safer one.


Large vehicles usually offer better protection

Large vehicles have a number of advantages when it comes to accident protection. The larger body dimensions sometimes allow more extensive “crumple zones”, and SUVs, for example, are often more robust than a small car. In addition, large vehicles such as an SUV or a luxury sedan have a large vehicle mass, which can be beneficial in the event of a collision. In the case of large vehicles, it is also mostly vehicles of the upper middle class, the upper class or off-road vehicles of the luxury segment. In these vehicles, the latest safety systems are often included as standard, which also results in a higher level of occupant protection. New technologies, such as the first airbags, were always found first in large luxury vehicles. For example, the Mercedes S-Class was the first German car to be available with an airbag. Driver assistance systems that can reduce the severity of any accidents, such as an emergency brake assistant, can also be found primarily in these vehicles. In addition, small vehicles are usually bought by a price-conscious group of buyers. Safety systems, such as additional airbags, are sometimes available as additional options for small cars, but are not always ordered because of the high price premium.


Study from the USA causes a stir

Some time ago, a study by the research institute of US auto insurers caused a stir. The study compared the death rate of drivers of different car models. Accordingly, the likelihood of death in an accident is particularly low if you drive a heavy sedan or SUV. In contrast, a relatively large number of road users died in small cars during the same observation period. However, it should be noted in this context that there are far fewer small cars on the road in the USA than in Germany. Therefore, most of the other small cars involved in the accident in the USA were large and heavy vehicles, such as pickups or heavy off-road vehicles. In this case, the occupants of the small car have bad cards, as the automobile club ADAC once found out during a crash test of a small car against a large, heavy off-road vehicle. In this context, the experts mainly criticized the lack of “partner protection” for heavy off-road vehicles. So-called partner protection is what traffic experts call the protection that a vehicle offers the other party involved in a collision.


It's not just size that matters

When it comes to occupant protection, however, the size of the vehicle is by no means the only factor. How seriously the occupants of a vehicle are injured in an accident also depends on the age of the vehicle in question. In the past decades, vehicle occupant protection has improved steadily, and the automotive industry presents new systems and concepts for protecting vehicle occupants practically every year. In the last few decades, for example, side impact protection, airbags in various positions in the vehicle and belt tensioners have found their way into our vehicles and have become indispensable today. A large but old vehicle does not necessarily have to offer a particularly high level of occupant protection. You should also pay attention to this fact when it comes to buying an older used car.


Accident at a classic car rally - BMW versus Smart

An accident at a classic car rally shows that it makes a difference whether a vehicle is an old or a newer model. In the course of the twenty-second ADAC Oldtimer and Classic Rallye Verden in 2016, there was a serious collision. During the rally, which takes place on public roads and is not about speed, a BMW participating in the rally collided with an uninvolved Smart car. Although the Smart was a first-generation vehicle from the production period 1998 to 2007, the specially developed passenger cell withstood the impact and was almost undamaged. The body of the old-timer BMW, on the other hand, was considerably compressed. The two rally participants, who suffered serious injuries despite typical rally installations such as racing seats and a roll bar, were trapped in their vehicle and had to be freed by the fire brigade.

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