Toronto, Ontario — Despite the relatively flimsy appearance of their roof structures, late-model convertibles are no riskier than roofed vehicles when it comes to collisions, according to a new study by the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Study findings say convertibles are involved in six percent fewer police-reported crashes per mile traveled when compared to their conventional counterparts, while driver death rates were 11 percent lower.
Eric Teoh, IIHS director of statistical services, who wrote the paper, compared the rates of driver deaths and police-reported crashes per miles traveled for convertible and nonconvertible versions of one-to-five year old models during 2014-2018.
He also compared the circumstances and driver behaviors associated with the fatal crashes, looking at factors like point of impact and whether the driver was ejected from the vehicle, as well as impairment and seat belt use.
While the findings found convertibles to be safer-than-expected, the study also found the likelihood that the driver was ejected from the vehicle in the event of a fatal crash was higher for convertibles than conventional versions. About 21 percent of convertible drivers killed in crashes were ejected from their vehicles, compared with 17 percent for conventional cars.
Among rollover crashes, the likelihood of ejection was 43 percent for convertibles, versus 35 percent for their nonconvertible counterparts.
“These findings don’t suggest that convertibles offer better protection for their occupants than other cars, but they do indicate there’s no statistical basis for concerns that the lack of a permanent roof makes them more dangerous,” said Teoh. “If you’re shopping for a convertible, you should consider crash test ratings and safety features, just as you would if you were shopping for any other car.”