Like seatbelts and airbags, crumple zones are one of many vehicle safety features designed to help protect you and your passengers if you’re involved in an accident on the road. But what exactly is a crumple zone? And how do crumple zones come into play in collisions? Let’s find out.
Also known as a crush zone, a crumple zone is an area of a vehicle (usually located in the front and rear) that’s designed to crumple or crush when hit with significant force.
Science says that if a vehicle travelling at 80 km/h hits something and stops immediately, anyone inside the vehicle will continue moving at 80 km/h until something stops them (like an airbag, seatbelt, or dashboard). Think of the crumple zone as a buffer around your vehicle that helps cushion the blow of a collision by extending your deceleration time so your car stops (relatively) slowly, rather than suddenly, to minimize the force that you and your passengers feel.
While the crumpling may cause more damage to your vehicle, the extra few tenths of a second it takes to stop could help prevent otherwise significant injuries.
While specific designs and materials vary by manufacturer and by vehicle weight and size, manufacturers share a common goal when designing crumple zones: to find the perfect balance between too much and too little impact resistance. With too much resistance, it won’t crumple easily enough in a collision. With too little resistance, it’ll crumple too easily. Either way, your vehicle will stop suddenly, so you’ll feel more of the impact and you’re more likely to sustain injuries.
Some simple crumple zone designs include frame segments built to bend in certain areas or collapse onto themselves, while more advanced designs make use of metals and other materials that are specifically engineered to absorb as much energy as possible. Crumple zones in high-performance vehicles often follow a honeycomb design, which is stiff in normal conditions but can collapse and crumple in a collision.
Next time you’re thinking of upgrading your vehicle, consider going for an option with enhanced safety features. Ask your dealership which vehicles perform best in crash tests, find out which advanced driver assistance systems are available on your preferred model, and consider the in-car technology you’ll use to take your safe ride to the next level.
You may have narrowed down your choices and need some help comparing car insurance prices for your top picks.
Written by: Stephanie Fereiro