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Is your minivan as safe as you think?

When you think of a family-friendly vehicle, a minivan probably comes to mind. For many years, minivans have been marketed to parents as a way to keep their families comfortable and safe on the road.

However, minivans can actually be less safe than other vehicles in accidents because of the way they are designed. In fact, in recent crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, some popular minivans earned the lowest safety rating.

The institute set up tests that replicated a collision in which the front-corner of the minivan collides with another object while traveling at 40 miles per hour, known in the industry as the small overlap front crash test. This was the first time minivans were tested in this severe type of accident.

The institute reported that the Nissan Quest, Chrysler Town and Country, and Dodge Caravan were all given the lowest safety rating. In the same test, the Honda Odyssey earned a "good" rating and the Toyota Sienna earned an "acceptable" rating, the institute reported.

Another minivan currently sold in the U.S., the Kia Sedona, will be tested soon after a change in the vehicle's design has been implemented.

Minivans are heavier than most other vehicles on the roads, which can result in a more severe accident. Additionally, they are built wider than the platforms they're built on, which leaves large sections of the vehicles less able to absorb the impact of a collision, the Associated Press reported.

Ultimately, it's extremely important for crash tests like this to be publicized so that consumers can make an informed decision on their vehicles purchases, and so auto manufacturers are encouraged to make design improvements that save lives.

Source: Ctpost.com, "Minivans do poorly in new crash tests," Dee-Ann Durbin, Nov. 20, 2014

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