Are convertibles less safe than nonconvertibles? Due to the fact that they lack a permanent roof, and that the roofs they do have often appear to be more flimsy than in traditional vehicles, many assume that they are not as safe when involved in an accident.
But, according to a recent study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), statistically there is no evidence that late-model convertibles are less safe than nonconvertibles. The study actually showed that fatality and crash rates were lower for convertibles than the same vehicles in their nonconvertible versions.
According to the director of statistical services for the IIHS, Eric Teoh: “These findings don’t suggest that convertibles offer better protection for their occupants than other cars, but they do indicate there’s no statistical basis for concerns that the lack of a permanent roof makes them more dangerous.”
The study, using data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting and the Crash Report Sampling Systems maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, looked at both convertible and nonconvertible versions of the same late model vehicles released between model years 2014 to 2018, and compared the fatality rates and the number of police-reported crashes per mile traveled, for both versions.
The study found that fatality rates were 11% lower for convertibles, and that they were involved in 6% fewer crashes per mile traveled, than the nonconvertible versions. It also took into consideration factors such as driver intoxication and seatbelt use, as well as other circumstances and behaviors that are often associated with fatal accidents.
For convertibles, the likelihood that a driver would be thrown from the vehicle in the event of a very serious accident, was higher than in nonconvertibles, which is somewhat to be expected.
This study suggests that convertibles don’t seem to involve particular dangers, and the IIHS suggests that people considering buying a convertible check safety ratings and crash test results, just like they would do if considering a nonconvertible.
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