The last thing you ever want to think about is a car accident. In fact, most people ignore the safety features of rental cars. That is, until you're in an accident; then it's those very safety features that will save your life. When a vehicle is in a head on collision, or absorbs an impact in another area, they are designed to "crumple." This might sound strange. Why would you want a vehicle to collapse in on you? Wouldn't it be better for your car to stay in one piece in an accident? And what the heck is a crumple zone? All very good questions, and things you should know when climbing into a car rental. Here is what you need to know about the crumple zone of an automobile.
What is a crumple zone?
When you're in a car accident, there are many things you need to know. Although understanding what exactly your car rentals crumple zone is won't save your life, or help you in the moments following a collision, it is still comforting to know your automobile has been designed with your safety in mind. In short, a crumple zone is an area of your car designed to collapse or crush during a collision. These crumple zones vary greatly from vehicle to vehicle, and exist in the front, rear and sides of your rental car.
The force you don't want with you
In a car accident, you want the force of the collision to be as far away from you as possible. That's why automotive companies are now designing crumple zones. Crumple zones absorb force, and redistribute it away from the vehicle's passengers. Think of it like the shock absorbers in your car. Without them, you would feel every bump in the road. When your vehicle is in a collision, a crumple zone absorbs the force of the crash before it gets to you. If it didn't, the full force would impact your body, causing severe injury or worse. During normal driving in your car rental, crumple zones are designed to remain stiff and solid, but during an accident, they will collapse to absorb the impact and energy.
Does size matter?
In terms of your car rental vehicle and its crumple zone, size is very important. For larger vehicles like an SUV rental or van rental, the force of a crash is typically greater due to the increased mass of the vehicle. Force is directly related to mass and velocity, so as the mass of a vehicle increases, so does its need to be able to absorb greater force. Before the crumple zone, SUVs and vans had much lower crash ratings. Since the crumple zone became a standard design component of new vehicles, SUV and van safety ratings have skyrocketed. These vehicles typically have a slightly larger crumple zone to help absorb this added force, and move the negative energy away from passengers.
Does the crumple ever stop?
If there was no end to the crumple zone of your car rental or SUV rental, you would also be in great danger. Crumple zones are designed outside the rigid frame of your vehicle. This means after the crumple zone removes as much force from the collision as possible, your automobile than has a solid frame, or shield to protect you. Fatal accidents often occur when the force is too great for the crumple zone to absorb. Even with a crumple zone, it's crucial to assure you and your car rental companions are always wearing their seatbelt, or if a small child is in the vehicle, they're properly secured in a car seat.
What can crumple do for you?
The crumple zone isn't the only safety feature of your rental car. In fact, most modern vehicles are equipped with a plethora of safety devices. Since your rental car is likely unfamiliar, it's important to review the driver's manual, and familiarize yourself with the other safety features of your vehicle.
As you climb into your rental car for an enjoyable drive or vacation, the crumple zone should be the last thing on your mind, and hopefully, you never have to see it in action. If an accident does occur though, it's reassuring to know your vehicle has been designed with your safety in mind.