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Insurance industry: 'Smart car' is safe

May 14, 2008 1:14:29 PM PDT
The smallest car you can buy in the United States is safe, according to crash tests conducted by the insurance industry.The Smart car is not even a minicar; it's classified as a microcar. So just how safe could a car that small be when out on the highway?

The diminutive two seater was put through a series of crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Although the Smart was the smallest car ever tested, the results were impressive for its size.

At 40 mph, you would think the tiny front end of the Smart Fortwo wouldn't hold up, yet in the front end collision, the Smart Car bounces backwards.

"As a result the vehicle rebounds violently off of our barrier. The restraint system, the seatbelts and the air bags have to do more of the work protecting the occupants. Although the dummy's head did strike the steering wheel hard, through the air bag overall, we think the Smart does a good job protecting its occupants in this kind of crash," said institute President Adrian Lund said.

The Smart did well in the side-impact test as well. The side crash simulated what would happen if the vehicle was struck in the side by a sport utility vehicle at 30 mph.

The door latch on the Smart did fail.

"The stiff structure around the occupant compartment did a good job of resisting the intrusion of the barrier. The side air bags did a good job of keeping the injury measures on the dummy low," said Lund.

Most of the Smart Car dealerships like this one in North Hollywood have a cutaway model of the car that shows the safety features like the side impact air bags. But as well as the Smart car did in the crash tests it is still not the best choice for safety.

"You wouldn't put a featherweight boxer into the ring with a heavyweight. Out on the road small lightweight vehicles don't protect their occupants as well as larger and heavier ones," said Lund.

The Smart Fortwo is more than 3 feet shorter and nearly 700 pounds lighter than a Mini Cooper.

 

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