The first motor vehicle fatality occurred in 1889 in New York City. Since then, The United States has continued to elevate its standards with regard to vehicle safety, including focusing on a concept called crashworthiness.

No driver wants to anticipate being involved in a car accident. However, should an accident occur, drivers must be able to trust that the vehicle they utilize each and every day has been safely manufactured and thoroughly tested. Most states require vehicles to meet certain crashworthiness standards. If there are defects in your vehicle’s structural integrity when an accident happens, serious injuries, or even death can occur to the driver and/or the other passengers in the vehicle. Sadly, manufacturers and distributors do not always uphold these standards, and consumers are injured and killed every year by vehicles that are not crashworthy.

Crashworthiness, or the ability of a vehicle and any of its components to protect the occupants in survivable crashes, is one of the most important responsibilities of a car manufacturer. More specifically, crashworthiness connotes a measure of the vehicle’s structural ability to plastically deform and yet maintain a sufficient survival space for its occupants in crashes.

The Characteristics of a Crashworthy Vehicle Include:

  • A deformable, yet stiff, front structure with crumple zones to absorb a crash’s kinetic energy
  • A deformable rear structure that can maintain vehicle integrity
  • Properly designed side structures and doors to minimize intrusion
  • Strong roof structure for rollover protection
  • Properly designed restraint systems that work in harmony with the vehicle structure
  • Ability to accommodate various chassis designs

A particular area of importance when determining a vehicle’s crashworthiness is the vehicle’s frame. When a car is involved in an accident, especially in a rollover, the frame of the vehicle must withstand the impact to keep the passengers inside from being severely injured. For instance, if you are involved in a crash, and the roof crumples upon impact, the damages resulting from the accident will be much more severe than in a vehicle that properly maintains its structural integrity. Unfortunately, some manufacturers may rush their production or choose to overlook unfavorable crash outcomes in the interest of making a profit, thereby putting consumers at risk.

To determine crashworthiness, IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal or poor, based on performance in five tests:

  • Moderate overlap front
  • Small overlap front
  • Side overlap front
  • Roof strength
  • Head restraints

In the area of crash avoidance and mitigation, IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) assigns vehicles with available front crash prevention systems ratings of basic, advanced, or superior, based on the type of system and performance in track tests.

Depending on the nature of the impact and the vehicle involved, different criteria are used to determine the crashworthiness of the frame of your vehicle. Crashworthiness may be assessed prospectively by using computer models or crash experiments. Alternatively, crashworthiness may also be assessed retrospectively by analyzing actual crash outcomes. The most common way of assessing a vehicle’s crashworthiness is to do so prospectively, which can provide insight into common factors that affect the deformation patterns of the vehicle structure, the acceleration experienced by the vehicle during an impact, and the probability of injury predicted by human body models. The data gathered by a prospective crashworthiness test allows car manufacturers to find and fix any structural integrity issues with the vehicle before it is shipped out to various dealerships and purchased by consumers.

Data Gathered During Vehicle Crashworthiness Tests Can Include:

  • A vehicle’s CDC, or Collision Deformation Classification, which is defined by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) as the manner in which a vehicle withstands an impact depending on whether the crash was elastic (when two or more vehicles collide, bounce off each other, and do not get stuck together) versus whether the crash was inelastic (such as when two cars crash and weld themselves into one)
  • Injury predictions based on data from event data recorders
  • Typical vehicle acceleration profiles of various crash patterns and crash velocities
  • The likelihood of a vehicle to withstand an impact, estimated by the vehicle weight, the residual deformation, and the change in velocity at the time of impact

Texas Crashworthiness Lawyers

Despite having the data that could save thousands of lives, vehicle manufacturers often attempt to maximize profit at the expense of safety, because it is cheaper for them to pay claims than to fix design or structural issues. Rarely do vehicle manufacturers take the initiative to implement state-of-the-art safety advances.

If your vehicle failed to protect you in an automobile accident on Texas or New Mexico roads, and you believe that your vehicle’s lack of crashworthiness contributed to the resulting damages, the experienced car accident attorneys at Liggett Law Group can help you seek out the responsible party and attain the compensation that you deserve.