In a recent study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the findings revealed that 10,000 drivers and passengers across the nation are killed each year by "overlap crashes." This refers to front-end crashes involving the unprotected corners of the front of the vehicle. These deaths make up a quarter of all front-end fatal crashes.
These corners of the front of the vehicles, where the headlamps are located, are not built to protect the occupant compartment though this unfortified area makes up about 25 percent of the front end. As a result, wheels, components of the windshield and structures of the dash and doors can be pushed in on the passengers and drivers.
The safety of vehicle occupants hinges on the way the vehicle behaves in a crash -- airbags deploy to protect the upper bodies of the passengers and driver, but if the occupant compartment does not keep outside components from encroaching on the occupants, what good does the airbag do? Over the last few years, airbags have become increasingly safe with increased placement throughout the vehicles, such as side-curtain airbags. Keeping the occupant compartment unimpaired will keep the occupants safe; however, no governmental agency has performed crash tests to ensure this.
These "not-quite-head-on" crashes are serious and fatal. The president of the IIHS, Adrian Lund, described it in the following way: "If you ship a fragile item in a strong box, it's more likely to arrive at its destination without breaking. In crashes, people are less vulnerable to injury if the occupant compartment remains intact." Vehicle manufacturers will have to respond to this data in order to ensure the safety of their customers.
Source: The Birmingham News, "Driver's Side: unexpected danger lied at vehicle corners in front-end collisions," Ginny MacDonald, Aug. 20, 2012
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