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Think That Minivan is Safe? That May Not be the Case


You have a family, and want to keep your family safe. So, you get a minivan. It’s safe, it’s large, seemingly provides a nice big cabin in the back where your kids can sit and be protected in the event of an accident, and because it’s built for families, it must be safe.

Well, some or all of that may not exactly be true, at least according to a recent study, which found that the four most popular minivans, actually do a poor job of protecting the occupants of the minivan, and especially the people in the back—the people most likely to be children, at least in a minivan.

What Changed?

But what happened to the minivan’s former reputation as being safe? That all changed when the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) changed their safety test. Unlike prior tests, the IIHS this time put crash test dummies in the back who were more along the sizes of children (or small women). They then tested frontal impact to see just how safe the occupants in the back of the van, just behind the front seats, actually were.

While the minivans tested did admirably in safety measures for the people in the front of the van, they did much poorer for those rear passengers. In some tests, the passengers (the dummies) in the back sustained significant injuries.

The Tests and the Results

To score well on the tests, a van’s passengers (dummies) should, when seat belted, remain free from contacting other parts of the interior of the vehicle in a  crash, and they should not “sink under” or slip under the safety harness on impact.

In one van, back seat passengers that were seat belted sustained injury when the belt still allowed their head to slam into the back of the front seat.

In another, frightening situation, the dummy sank under the seat belt on impact, and its head became entangled in the seat belt, which latched onto the dummy’s neck. In another, side airbags didn’t deploy at all, and in another, the seatbelts fastened too hard, causing chest injuries.In fact. Multiple tests showed injuries from seat belts that caused injury from being too restrictive.

The Back and Front Seats

In some ways, the back seats of minivans haven’t become less safe; it’s just the increased safety measures in the front seats have heightened the deficiencies and lack of safety technology available to backseat passengers.

Unlike people in the front seat, who are often surrounded by front, side, or knee airbags, people in the backseat have no such thing. They are only protected by seatbelts. Those seatbelts can cause chest injuries in smaller passengers, especially if the belts aren’t positioned correctly.

Needless to say, some car manufacturers doubt the test results, and challenge the notion that any single safety test can determine a car’s overall safety.

Injured in an accident involving a minivan? Call the Knoxville personal injury attorneys at Fox Farley Willis & Burnette, PLLC, for help today.




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