As families prepare to head out on their holiday road trips, many will pile into the quintessential family-friendly vehicle: The minivan.

minivan-300x225However, a new series of crash tests indicate the vehicle may not be as safe as some may have long believed.

The research, released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, indicates the van failed the “small overlap” front crash test. In the case of one model, the depth of intrusion into the front passenger seat was the worst of any vehicle on the market. Consistently, minivans had the worst outcome in that type of test. Generally what that means is drivers and front seat passengers would be at serious risk of severe and possibly permanent leg injuries in the event of a front-impact crash.

Cape Coral auto accident attorneys understand the worst-performing minivan model, according to The New York Times’ report on the testing, was the Chrysler Town & Country, which earned the lowest overall rating of “Poor.” The Nissan Quest also received this rating, as did the Dodge Grand Caravan and the Mazda 5. Another model minivan, the Toyota Sienna, received a rating of “Acceptable.”

The ratings are graded on a four-point scale, ranging from Good (being the best), to Acceptable to Marginal and lastly Poor (the worst).

Researchers reportedly evaluated all available minivan models currently on the market, except for the Kia Sedona, which underwent a redesign recently. Last year, the Honda Odyssey was the top-rated minivan, receiving a rating of “Good” on the small overlap test.

This type of test is meant to reconstruct what occurs when the front corner of a car sustains impact with another vehicle or solid object at 40 mph. The executive researcher said these results reveal the need for further safety considerations by manufacturers. These same models previously received all top-level ratings in other tests, though it now appears they are not providing the kind of broad protection needed for front-impact crashes. Researchers only began conducting this particular test beginning in 2012, and did so because federal data revealed these types of wrecks accounted for a quarter of all fatal and serious injuries in vehicles that had previously received a “Good” level rating.

Study authors were quick to note these vehicles still provide decent overall crash protection, but consumers of vehicles should consider purchasing those models that fared better in the small overlap test (the Toyota Sienna or Honda Odyssey).

It’s not just minivans that are the problem. The institute pointed out of the 134 cars on which it has conducted this test, 30 failed it. However, minivans tend to be more susceptible to problems because of the way they are built – on platforms much wider than typical passenger cars. This means a greater portion of the front extends beyond the main crash-absorbing point.

In those vehicles that rated Poor, researchers say there is virtually no chance a person seated in the front wouldn’t sustain – at minimum – severe bone fractures in one or both legs. If the person survived, he or she would be unlikely to ever walk again normally.

In these situations, injured persons should consult with an experienced attorney to learn more about their legal options to pursue compensation and damages.

If you have been a victim of a traffic accident in Cape Coral, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.

Additional Resources:

Minivans Fare Poorly in Tests Mimicking a Collision, Nov. 20, 2014, By Cheryl Jensen, The New York Times

More Blog Entries:

Pope v. Babick – Third-Party Driver Sued in Crash Case, Nov. 2, 2014, Cape Coral Car Accident Lawyer Blog