Local doctor's car crash study shows heavier, more expensive car - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Local doctor's car crash study shows heavier, more expensive cars safer

A new study shows heavier cars are ultimately safer. (Source: WMBF News) A new study shows heavier cars are ultimately safer. (Source: WMBF News)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - If you think there is a connection between the size and weight of your vehicle and your safety on the roads, you may be on to something. 

One doctor with Grand Strand Medical Center is sharing the results of his extensive research study that analyzes the impact of vehicle type, vehicle weight and price on automobile safety. 

Dr. Dietrich Jahle is the emergency medicine residency program director for Grand Strand Medical Center. He has over 30 years in emergency medicine. Recently, his article was published in The Journal of the South Carolina Medical Association.

Jahle said he has concerns about the way crash tests determine if a car is safe. 

"I think the crash rating system doesn't really give completely accurate information to consumers," Jahle said. "So the crash test, the five-star crash rating ,are running a car into an embankment that's immobile and that's similar to hitting a car the same weight as your own."

Jahle said in the real world, vehicles don't hit walls, they hit other vehicles, and that has a different outcome.

"Cars that are lighter that get hit, what happens to the passengers and the drivers in them isn’t really reflected in these five-star crash ratings," Jahle said. 

His study basically shows bigger cars are safer cars. Jahle said he wants consumers to understand what they should be looking for when it comes to their safety before they purchase a vehicle. 

He added new small cars are safer than they've ever been, but now newer model, heavier vehicles are still much safer than small ones.

Jahle said it's a matter of physics. The larger vehicles weigh more, have longer hoods and have bigger crush zones, which in essence gives more advantage in front crashes. 

In his study, Jahle said all of the date compiled is the same information used by insurance companies.

"The data we added on comes out of a database that insurance companies use to figure out how much they’re going to charge you for driving the car that you buy when you drive it out of the lot," Jahle said. 

According to the article, the study included vehicle models from 2010 to 2012 and were categorized by vehicle body type.  Results were based on the personal injury loss experience of these vehicles from their date of purchase through early 2013. 

Jahle said the study started with more than 500 vehicles, but the number decreased to close to 360 as those vehicles met the inclusion criteria. For instance, sports cars which are driven shorter distances than other kinds of cars were not included. 

Overall, Jahle said the study concluded that for every thousand-pound heavier your vehicle is, it was 19 percent safer.

"For every $10,000 more expensive your vehicle is, it's 11 percent safer," Jahle said. "More expensive vehicles are more likely to have a little bit better safety component in it."

The study said pickup trucks were statistically the safest vehicle type, while SUVs were statistically safer than minivans/stations wagons, two-door and four-door cars. 

"Cars that are lighter that get hit, what happens to the passengers and the drivers in them isn't really reflected in these five-star crash ratings," Jahle said. 

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