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Young people like small cars, but there's a hidden danger

Often, younger drivers enjoy having small vehicles. As they get older and have families, they may start turning to minivans and trucks and SUVs with third-row seating. But, when they're young, they often buy compact cars or at least smaller vehicles.

According to auto experts, some of the most popular cars with young drivers include:

  • The Ford Focus ST
  • The Volkswagen GTI
  • The Jeep Wrangler
  • The Subaru Crosstrek

All of these are very small vehicles. They often have just two doors or a hatchback design. They offer little space, but they're "cool" cars that serve a purpose.

Of course, some of this is just an economic decision. It costs a lot more money to buy a big SUV with three rows of seats than it does to buy a Crosstrek. Young drivers who do not have a lot of money saved up or who have other bills - rent, student loans, etc. - may just have to buy small cars. They can graduate into larger ones when they settle into their careers.

The risk

Now, the hidden danger. While it's important to consider safety features and crash test ratings, you need to know that small vehicles are more dangerous. Studies have shown this multiple times over the years. Some claim that the fatality rates double in smaller cars. Even if they don't double, they do go up.

It's not that hard to see why when you consider the simple physics of a car accident. A small car is lighter. Even moving at the same speed, the force that it puts into an accident is less than that generated by a larger vehicle. This means more force acts on the small car, making injuries and fatalities more likely.

You also have to consider height. Larger vehicles tend to sit higher than small cars. The bumpers do not line up. The bumper on a Focus may not even touch the bumper on an F-150 in a head-on crash. Instead, the F-150 hits the hood of the Focus and slides up into the window as the Focus goes under the truck. The people in the truck get added protection, but those in the car face far more serious risks.

Your rights

This isn't to say small cars should never get purchased. They have many advantages, and they may be all you can afford. But you still do need to know what the risks look like, just as you need to know all of your legal rights in Illinois if another driver causes an accident that leaves you with serious injuries.

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