Local News

Jan 18, 2012 9:23 PM by Ariel Wesler

What makes a car safe?

In the wake of last week's dramatic crash near Buellton, we decided to take a look at just what makes a car safe.

Last thursday, a mother and her two children were rescued from their crushed car dangling off a bridge along Highway 101. A local truck driver was killed in the crash.

36-year-old Kelli Grove and her 10-year-old daughter are being treated at Cottage Hospital. Her 10-week-old daughter was treated and released.


According to the California Highway Patrol, the car is a 2001 BMW 325i. That car has since been discontinued, but the local dealership here is thrilled to know it saved a family's life.

It's the question everyone seems to be asking. Just how did the driver and two young passengers get out of a crushed BMW alive? Marshall Williams is the General Sales Manager at BMW of Santa Maria. He'll tell you the cars have always been built to be strong.

"You have the capability to drive 150 miles per hour on the autobahn over there, so obviously
they're going to design their technology and safety around that," Williams said.

But it's not just BMWs. Now, more models are even safer and have more standard safety features.

"Vehicles should be designed so the occupant compartment where the people sit stays intact even in serious crashes," said Adrian Lund, President of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Each year, the institute performs a variety of crash tests and releases the results.

When the agency first launched its "Top Safety Pick" Award in 2005, only 11 models made the cut. This year, 115 vehicles are on that list.

Experts say look for vehicles with top ratings in front, side, rear, and rollover crashes. The institute says larger, heavier cars tend to better absorb the impact than smaller vehicles.

Meanwhile, Williams plans to use the crash as a testament to the safety of the cars he sells

"I had a client the other day that came in and said did you see guys see the article, and of course, we said yes, we saw it. We're framing it."


The CHP says rear facing car seat carrying the baby was properly installed, but above all, everyone was wearing their seat belts.

To see the complete list of the 2012 IIHS Top Safety Picks, click here

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