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Shapiro & Appleton

Study Finds Mini-Vans Can Become Death Traps in Crashes

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In 1983, the first mini-vans rolled off of Detroit automakers assembly lines and were an immediate hit with American families. Thirty years later, the mini-van still remains one of the favorite vehicle choices for parent, with its removable seats and sliding back doors, enabling the transportation of kids or cargo.

But a recent series of safety tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has found that these popular family vehicles actually have the “worst outcomes” for the crash tests the researchers conducted and instead of keeping families safe in crashes, these minivans often become deathtraps.

The IIHS tested the four most popular models of minivans - Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan (Chrylser’s twin model), Nissan Quest, and Toyota Sienna. The type of testing performed had to do with small overlap front crashes. These types of crash test determine what would happen if the vehicle is hit, or comes in contact with another object, in the front corner of the vehicle. The speed simulated for the testing was 40 mph.

Out of the four models, only the Toyota Sienna received an acceptable rating, however, even that rating was determined by the IIHS to be “subpar.” The other three minivans were found to contain “critical flaws” in protecting vehicle occupants when overlap crashes happen.

During the Town and County’s testing, when the airbag deployed at impact, it actually decapitated the test dummy, sending the head smashing into the dashboard. The side airbags offered little protection, as well. The test dummy’s left leg was gouged up by the parking brake pedal and its skin of the left knee was torn by a steel brace with popped out from underneath the instrument panel of the vehicle. The van’s lower hinge pillar was pushed in by 15 feet.

The Nissan Quest fared no better in testing. Testers measured the forces of impact and there were areas where the force exceeded the sensor equipment capacity. When the airbag deployed upon impact, it smashed into the test dummy’s face. The parking brake was moved almost two feet into the driver’s seat. This caused the foot of the test dummy to become trapped so deeply that it was necessary to cut out the whole seat and use a crowbar to remove the trapped foot. The test dummy’s left leg also became trapped, between the seat and instrument panel.

Our personal injury firm has successfully represented many clients who were injured in accidents which were caused by defective vehicles. If you’ve been injured in a car crash, contact an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney to find out what compensation you may be entitled to for pain and loss.

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