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How Would Your Van Fare in a Crash?

posted on 19 June 2014 | posted in Tips

Van safety is much more than just airbags. Most people envision a safe vehicle as one that performs well in those ever-popular crash test dummy commercials. But in reality, it's much more than that.

Consumer vehicle safety is based on two things: how well a vehicle fares in a crash and the features it possesses to help the driver of that vehicle avoid a crash to begin with. Both are equally important.


Avoiding a collision is ideal, but there will inevitably be collisions that are unavoidable due to weather conditions, other drivers, or unforeseen circumstances. When it comes right down to it, are you safe in your van or SUV?

Let's start with crash protection. Should you get into a collision with another vehicle, how well will your vehicle fare? There are three types of crash tests: full-frontal (two vehicles hitting head on), side-impact (broad-sided accidents that most often happen when a driver runs a red light), and off-set frontal (the most common type when one vehicle turns into another vehicle and the brunt of the impact is taken by either the front seat passenger or the driver). Airbags are probably the most important feature when considering the three types of crash tests. The vehicles that rate the best have both frontal airbags and side-impact airbags. Many models now offer head-curtain side impact airbags which are airbags mounted above the side windows instead of below them and better protect the head as opposed to the torso in an accident.

Many other vehicles also offer a variety of crash safety features (sometimes referred to as 'passive" safety features) like steel cage or steel side bars built into the vehicle's frame or collapsible steering columns that "give" by retracting into the dash to avoid causing torso injuries like broken ribs for the driver.

While it goes without saying, seatbelts are also important in surviving accidents. They may be the single most important feature of a vehicle in terms of safety. Shoulder harnesses as well as lap belts are now standard in almost every new van in both the front and back seats.

As we've already stated, features that help us avoid an accident are just as important. These are sometimes referred to as 'active" safety features because the driver can control the avoidance of an accident by using them. One such feature is an antilock braking system (also known as ABS) which frequently helps to avoid accidents.

Other features include responsive acceleration (a vehicle that has the ability to accelerate rapidly can merge into traffic more safely), internal visibility (a design that provides drivers with the ability to see the road and other cars clearly by minimizing blind spots), external visibility (a vehicle that can easily be seen by other drivers on the road), and emergency handling (the responsiveness of the steering wheel and how quickly and efficiently a vehicle responds to the driver's control).

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