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Tougher vehicle standards bring fewer clear safety winners

“Size matters” might be an adage that rings true for many things, but car safety is not necessarily one of them.

Many motorists in Ohio and nationally certainly used to think that, in most cases, it would be preferable for a driver and passengers to be firmly seated in a comparatively large vehicle in the event of a motor vehicle accident.

The calculation underlying that rationale would understandably be that more steel means more protection, and more protection logically leads to an enhanced safety outcome in a crash.

Truth be told, you might fare just as well -- or better -- in an accident if you are sitting in a minicar such as the Chevrolet Spark, at least these days. That tiny vehicle comes with 10 standard air bags and makes liberal use of ultra-high-steel throughout its body to safeguard its occupants. It has earned a Top Safety Pick rating for 2014 from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

It’s harder for vehicle manufacturers to garner those awards these days, given that the IIHS -- which crash tests and records safety results for cars -- has made it harder for test vehicles to amass high scores. As a recent safety article in Forbes states, the standards now better reflect “real-world accident risks.”

Ohio consumers who are in a buying mood might want to peruse the latest test results released by the IIHS, especially since the number of 2014-model vehicles receiving the agency’s top safety award have plummeted materially from 2013, from 130 to 39, respectively.

Source: Forbes, "New crash test ratings raise question: What really makes a car safe?" Joann Muller, Dec. 19, 2013

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