A new study identified that automakers have used a combination of advanced transmission, smaller engines, decreased weight and better aerodynamics to improve efficiency incrementally in vehicles. This has taken up to 300 lbs. out of newer generations of vehicles. Lighter weights have spread throughout new cars over the past ten years. One such example early on was the Mazda 2 sub-compact which was recently discontinued for the U.S. market.

This was up to 100 lbs. lighter than its predecessor when the vehicle came on the market in 2008. Researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research explored the weight data for vehicles sold between 1954 and 2005 and looked at reports of more than 17 million car crashes from 1989 until 2005. They noted the weights of the vehicles involved and whether or not the crash caused one or more fatalities. Vehicle weight began to decline first in 1975. Determining what cars are safer could be important for telling automakers the perceived value of a safe car and could help point you in the right direction when buying a new vehicle. 

The study identified that those vehicles that were more efficient and had lighter weight were less likely to be involved in serious crashes. When searching for a new or used car, there’s no doubt that part of your analysis will involve whether there have been any safety concerns. Although you hope to never be involved in an auto accident, you don’t want to find out after the fact that your car lacks protection in the event of a crash.

If you or someone you know has already been involved in a vehicle accident, you need to consult with your physician about the potential impacts on your life over the long run.