If you drive a minivan or know someone who does, then you need to read the results from the latest research study by the Institute for Highway Safety. There are some scary results here for some very popular minivans out on Illinois and Indiana roads — including three that are considered to be very unsafe.
How bad? According to the researchers, “some of the worst possible outcomes for this type of crash.”
Who did the research?
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is an independent non-profit organization that studies motor vehicle accidents in the United States and tries to find ways to make driving in America safer. True, the IIHS is funded by auto insurance companies — but their profit concerns are all about making cars safer so they don’t have to pay as much in claims. Even if we take the IIHS study with a grain, it’s important to consider their findings. So here goes:
Chrysler Town and Country (2008-15), Dodge Caravan (2008-15), Volkswagen Routan (2009-12), and Nissan Quest (2001-2015)
Four minivans (Chrysler Town and Country, Dodge Caravan, Volkswagen Routan, and Nissan Quest ) were tested for what happens when they were in a crash with another vehicle (or a tree, or a utility pole) as the minivan is going 40 MPH. Each of these minivans “collapsed” in the crash.
Here’s a scary result: the crash test dummy’s head fell from the air bag and hit the dashboard in the Town and Country test.
The worst was the Nissan Quest. From the IIHS release:
“The structure was pushed in nearly 2 feet at the lower hinge pillar, and the parking brake pedal moved 16 inches toward the driver. The dummy’s left leg was trapped between the seat and instrument panel, and its right foot was caught between the brake pedal and toe pan. Following the tests, technicians had to cut the entire seat out and then use a crowbar to free the right foot. ….The forces measured all along the dummy’s left leg, from the thigh to the foot, were very high, in some cases exceeding the limits of the sensors. ” ’A real person experiencing this would be lucky to ever walk normally again,” Zuby points out. A broken right femur also would be possible.…’”
Toyota Sienna (2015)
The Toyota minivan (Sienna) was “weak” but the crash test dummy survived the impact so the Toyota Sienna got a rating of “acceptable.” That is the 2nd highest rating. Sorta like a “B” on the report card.
Honda Odyssey – Only Minivan With Highest Safety Rating
Only one minivan — the Honda Odyssey — got the highest safety rating from IIHS in these safety tests. The minivan did suffer damage, but the crash test dummy was protected during the impact. Result: the rating of “good.”
Minivans Sold To Families: Shouldn’t They Be Safer?
In the United States, the minivan is synonymous with the American Family. It’s what mothers use to take the kids to soccer practice. It’s what dads drive when the family goes to the movies on Friday night. Sports gear gets thrown in the back of the minivan; most every minivan you’ll see on the roads will have at least one infant car seat in the back.
Parents buy minivans because they are convenient — but they also drive minivans because they believe these vehicles to be safer for their families than many sedans or SUVs. It’s shocking to learn that these vehicles aren’t passing basic safety testing at a 40 MPH rate. What happens when the minivan is in a collision on the freeway, where interstate speed limits are much higher?
When someone suffers an injury or tragic death in a minivan accident, they need to be aware that not only are there possible claims to be pursued against the driver who was negligent and at fault in the wreck but there are also potential “products liability” claims to consider regarding the design and manufacturer of the vehicle itself. Expect to see lawsuits advancing where victims of minivan accidents rely upon this study and others in their injury lawsuits and wrongful death claims.