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Belgian road safety institute concerned about growing size of cars
Belgian traffic safety institute Vias is concerned about the increasing size of cars on the country’s roads, pointing out that larger cars result in deadlier accidents.
The current trend for cars to become heavier, higher and more powerful “risks leading to a two-tier road safety system”, according to a study carried out by the Vias Institute and reported in Le Soir.
While passengers in more robust vehicles are increasingly safe, vulnerable road users and occupants of smaller cars are increasingly at risk of serious or fatal injury.
In a collision between two cars, one of which weighs at least twice as much as the other, the occupants of the lighter vehicle are three times more likely to suffer serious injuries than when the two vehicles have a similar mass, according to the study, which was carried out between 2017 and 2021 on 300,000 car passengers and vulnerable road users.
The risk of fatal injury for a pedestrian or cyclist hit by a car 10cm higher than average rises by 27%.
The age of the vehicle is also a factor: compared with a new car (0-3 years), the risk of serious injury increases by 60% for occupants of an old car (12 years or more).
Another finding of the study is that the characteristics of cars have changed significantly over the past 20 years.
“Since 2000, the average weight of cars has increased by 28%, the average power by 60%, and the average height by 14%,” the study says.
“It is essential to curb this increase, move towards a more uniform fleet and provide better protection for vulnerable road users in the event of a collision with a car.”