Even the most conscientious and careful of drivers assumes some risk while driving. After all, you do have to share the road with other cars, and while you may have a spotless record and safe driving habits, there is no guarantee that others drivers on the road follow the same standards. Other drivers speed, drive drunk, fiddle with their radios, GPS systems and iPods, and in some cases text message on their phones or even do work on their laptops.

This is not to say that every other driver on the road is a reckless maniac, but rather to point out that there are some things on the road (just as in life) that are beyond your control. But there are things that you can do to help improve not only your chances of survival in the event of an accident, but also to improve your chances of walking away uninjured.

Do Your Homework

Most car advertising gives you the impression that the many safety features that are offered to consumers these days are a standard part of the package, when in fact the exact opposite is true. While front airbags are, like seat belts, a mandatory addition to any car sold in the United States, side airbags are not. These are the airbags that are in place along the interior sides of the car, and considering that plenty of collisions are not of the head-on variety, they are an important addition to the safety features of any automobile.

There are plenty of other things to consider, such as how it rates in crash tests or whether or not it has new anti-rollover technology. What follows is a list of some of the more dangerous cars out there. This list was compiled by Forbes, and the results were based on testing done by The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  

Buick Rendezvous: While one of the selling points of an SUV has been “safety,” this particular SUV proves that bigger doesn’t necessarily mean “safer.”  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration only gives this SUV a three out of five star rating for frontal impact collisions.

Ford Ranger/Mazda B-Series: This is the smallest of the Ford line of trucks, and while it certainly serves the same purpose as the Ford F Series, it doesn’t have nearly the stability of the larger trucks. According to the NTHSA, the Ranger has a three star rollover rating, which means that the truck has a 20 to 30% rollover rate in single car accidents.

Nissan Frontier: The Frontier serves as a perfect example of how a safety rating can drop dramatically when side and curtain airbags become “optional.” When tested without curtain or side airbags, the NHTSA safety ratings of the Frontier rated just three stars or below in frontal, side and rear impact safety tests.

Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner:Forgoing the “optional” side airbag package in this SUV will leave you with a car that received the lowest possible rating for side impact collisions. The Escape also doesn’t come with anti-rollover stability control, which leads to a much higher risk of vehicle rollover in the event of a collision.

Toyota Yaris (4 Door):Great mileage, great handling, and easy parking due to its smaller size. But none of these admirable features will help you in the event of an accident. The Yaris gets a three star rating from the NHTSA and a “poor” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in all side collision tests.

Hyundai Accent: Even standard side airbags can’t help this car in the event of a collision. The Hyundai Accent gets a “poor” rating from the IIHS in both side and rear impact tests, and only managed to get an “acceptable” with frontal impact tests.

Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe: This is another example of how a car can go from safe to not so safe if you assume that all the safety features are optional. While this model gets high safety ratings if the side airbags and stability controls are part of the package, leaving them out lowers the safety ratings considerably.

Kia Rio:This four door sedan is similar to the Hyundai Accent in that it gets “poor” ratings from the IIHS and NHTSA in side and rear collisions, and that’s even with the side airbags. While the IIHS gives it better ratings for what they call “accident avoidance” (meaning better handling and response, which leads to better chances at avoiding an accident in the first place,) this won’t help much if someone barrels into you at forty miles an hour.

Chevrolet Aveo: The good news is that the Aveo has standard side airbags, but the bad news is that they don’t extend to the backseat. If you are a driver with lots of passengers (like a parent,) you might want to consider a different purchase.

Suzuki Reno/Forenza:This car gets a “poor” rating from the IIHS, even though it has standard mounted front airbags. It has no side curtain or rear passenger airbags either. Which means it’s not the safest bet on the car dealer’s lot.

Preventing Injuries in Accidents is good for Everyone

As personal injury attorneys, we represent those who have been seriously injured in car accidents due to the negligence of others. As the years have gone by, we have noticed that more people are surviving car accidents that would have been surely fatal when we first began practicing. This is certainly due to the improvement of car safety technology over the years. But we feel it necessary to remind you that a lot of the safety features are in fact optional, and spending the extra money on those side curtain airbags and stability controls could make all the difference in making an accident survivable.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact our offices for a free legal consultation today.