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Are bigger cars safer?

Does it seem like everyone around you is obsessed with huge vehicles? From 5,000-pound Cadillac Escalades to 6,700-pound Ford F-250s, everyone drives an enormous vehicle, even when it's just one person driving to and from an office job.

There may be a good reason for this obsession with large trucks and SUVs: They're actually safer than small vehicles.

There are a few reasons, and one is just the weight itself. Traveling at similar speeds, the larger vehicle is contributing more of the force and energy to the crash, due to the higher mass. It's harder to slow down 6,700 pounds moving at 55 mph than it is to slow down 3,000 pounds -- a Ford Focus -- at the same speed.

This means that more of the energy is absorbed by the small car and the people inside. That's part of the reason that fatality rates are lower in large trucks and higher in small cars.

Another part of the equation is simply the amount of material that has to be destroyed before the car contacts the person inside. With a huge F-250, far more engine and frame has to be crushed back before the impact reaches the passenger compartment, as compared to the smaller Focus. The person in the Focus could get pinned in the vehicle while the person in the F-250 simple opens the door and hops out.

These are just two reasons why larger vehicles are safer and enjoy lower fatality rates, but they really help show the dangers on the highway when everyone doesn't have the same-size vehicle. When people pass away in tragic accidents, family members need to know all of their legal rights.

Source: Esurance, "Car size and crash safety," accessed March 14, 2018

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