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Big Considerations are Needed When Driving Micro Cars

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Steven J. Angles. Posted on .

For me, watching motorists drive in some European cities can be amazing and frightening at the same time.  Drivers are not only darting in and out of narrow streets, but they do so in heavy traffic near dense crowds of pedestrians.  For many Europeans, the car of choice is the so-called “micro car” that fits so well into the European lifestyle.  These tiny cars usually only fit two occupants and are designed without any back seat or real trunk.  However, they also make parking a snap and keep fuel costs low.

Over the past 5 years, we’ve all seen how many of these micro cars have made their way to U.S. roads.  In Washington State in particular, it’s hard for me to drive for more than a few minutes without seeing at least one micro car zipping by or neatly parked in a busy downtown area. It’s easy to see why, too: these cars cost less to buy, to insure, to fuel up, and owners can remain environmentally friendly while still enjoying the unique look of their rides. More recently, I’ve noticed how micro-cars are becoming the vehicle of choice for car-sharing services that allow customers to pay to drive “a la carte.”Smart Fourtwo Passion Coupe parked in driveway

But how well do these car translate into driving on this side of the Atlantic?  It turns out that despite some favorable crash-test results, how well these cars fare in a crash has largely to do with what the other person is driving, the point of impact, and where the crash takes place.   For example, a 2008 study conducted by the Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) concluded that the popular Smart Car For Two rated highly when it came to protecting occupants in front and side crashes.[1] Despite having less size to absorb the energy from a crash, the vehicle’s structure, airbags, and restraints were designed to help occupants “ride down” an impact as much as possible. [2]

However, it’s important to note that even the IIHS conceded that “all things being equal in safety, bigger and heavier is always better,” and that front-end crash tests were only done with vehicles with similar size and weight. Many cars in the micro class rate below average when it comes to overall protection from the common rear-end collision, due in part to the height difference in bumpers with other vehicles, particularly SUVs and trucks.  The IIHS also indicated the risk of death is higher in crashes of smaller, lighter vehicles. For vehicles 1-3 years old during 2006, minicars experienced 106 driver deaths per million registered vehicles compared with 69 driver deaths in large cars.”[3]

In weighing the pros and cons for your driving needs, remember to take these considerations into account before driving a micro-sized vehicle:

  • Do you drive in the city or the suburbs? You are more likely to encounter smaller vehicles travelling at slower speeds in urban areas.
  • How far is your commute? Fewer miles traveled at lower speeds leads to fewer and less severe crashes.
  • Does your micro car offer every advantage possible to help reduce injury? Look for safety features such as: electronic stability control, 4-6 airbags in the cabin, and anti-lock brakes.



[2] “Ride down” refers to the total movement of the human body during a collision including distance travelled and objects struck within the vehicle.


Why Being “Anti-social” is Best After an Injury

Categories: Personal Injury Resources, Practical Tips You Can Use

By Steven J. Angles. Posted on .

For many people after an injury, they’re stuck at home, out of work and often isolated from friends and family.  To pass the time and stay connected they frequently take to social media like Facebook and Twitter to reach out, vent, etc. and it’s no wonder.  Facebook users alone spend almost 7 hours per month on the site and that number is growing daily.

We’ve all heard the adage to be careful what you share, but in today’s world it’s more important than ever. It is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of what you post in social media and whether it is public or private, especially if a friend or family member has tagged you in a post or photo.iStock_000021488833XSmall (2)

Just the same, it is becoming easier and easier for insurance companies to search your name, general location or even your spouse’s name to find “evidence” to discredit you. They can use this information to track down photos, dates and more and then use the information against you to claim that you’re not hurt.

I recall being involved in a case years ago as a defense attorney when my client’s insurance company was investigating a person who suffered a spinal injury and was unable to work.  This person’s job required long hours of sitting in front of a computer.  In a matter of moments with a simple, free search on Facebook, the insurance adjuster found pictures from a recent trip the person had taken out of town. The insurance company, in turn, argued that if the person was “really hurt,” they never would have been able to travel any distance (never mind that the reason for travel was to visit a terminally ill friend). The point is, the insurance company was able to introduce doubt into the case using basic social media search techniques, making it harder for the injured person to recover their losses.

I also recall another case in which a driver who caused a motor vehicle collision started reaching out to the passenger she injured, her “best friend,” on Facebook. The injured passenger did not feel much like socializing, but wanted to try and maintain the friendship.  She would occasionally send quick responses by simply writing, “I’m okay,” or “I’ll be fine” to the driver.  The relationship between the two cooled as the months went by. The driver ultimately provided her insurance company with screen shots of all of the “conversations” with the injured friend.  The insurance company used the screen shots to document how, in its opinion, the injured passenger had regularly shown that she was recovering quickly from her injuries, despite medical records to the contrary.

Social media is a wonderful way to stay connected, but if you’ve been injured you must be extremely careful not to discuss it in social media.  Avoid posting pictures of activities or “checking in.” Restrict your privacy settings and “un-tag” yourself from photos taken by others. Taken out of context they can be damaging to your case. Ultimately, the safest solution is to “go dark” while your claim is being resolved.