Yesterday, it was reported that in a study that was just released analyzing the dangers posed by side-impact crashes, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that drivers of vehicles that received the consumer group's "Poor" rating would be 3 times more likely to die in a side-impact crash than drivers of cars that received one of the Institute's "Good" ratings.
As noted by the study, side-impact crashes tend to pose a far greater risk of serious injury or death because the sides of the vehicle have far less material to absorb crash energy - a factor that is particularly important in protecting the passengers in the vehicle. In that regard, while side air bags are helpful, they still cannot prevent the degree to which the other vehicle in the crash penetrates into the vehicle's passenger compartment. This concern is especially apparent when an S.U.V. collides with a sedan, because the S.U.V.'s front bumper is high up on the sedan door, and thereby affecting the main body parts of the sedan passengers, such as their abdomens and chests.
The bottom line of this study is this: before purchasing or leasing a vehicle, choose one with a "Good" safety rating from the Institute.