If you happen to be standing up right now, find a seat. What follows is going to be a wake-up call of immense proportions, especially if you’re still driving a 20-year old car. Considering the average age of vehicles on U.S. highways is 11.6 years – again, that’s an average – you certainly aren’t alone in your choice of older transportation.
The folks at the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) decided to put together a short video showing just how far manufacturers have come in the safety department over the last couple decades. They took a pair of Toyota Corollas – one from 1998 and the other from 2015 – and set them on a slightly offset head-to-head collision at 40 miles per hour. Now, most of us have probably seen archived crash test videos of cars from the 1950s and 1960s pummeling dummy occupants, but take a look at the differences between these two “modern” cars.
Mind you, the 1998 Toyota Corolla wasn’t considered unsafe by any means. It received an A rating from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration with a four-star frontal impact score. That didn’t stop this particular Corolla from folding up like an accordion in the impact, with severe damage to the passenger compartment clearly visible. The front wheel actually pushed into the driver area, and though this Corolla didn’t have any airbags, that still wouldn’t have prevented serious leg injuries at the very least.
Meanwhile, the passenger compartment of the 2015 Corolla showed surprisingly little damage overall. To get a better idea of what this all means, compare the A pillars and roofs of both vehicles. The new Corolla clearly shows some waviness up top with a slight kink in the A pillar, indicating most of the impact was absorbed by the front with just a bit transferring to the passenger compartment. By comparison, the same areas on the old Corolla are twisted like a pretzel, a clear indication that much of the impact was felt inside the car.
We’d certainly expect to see improvement over the years, but to see this kind of night-and-day difference is flat-out spooky. That’s not to say all turn-of-the-century cars will fare as poorly as this old Corolla, but still, be safe out there folks. No matter what you drive.