If are considering purchasing a minivan, you are probably focused on passenger safety because you want to keep your children as safe as possible. Their safety depends on your safety, however, so it is important to consider driver protection as well. It helps to consider vehicle safety in two parts: the van should have crash-prevention technology (such as proper tires and weight distribution to prevent rollovers), but it should also protect the driver and occupants if a crash does occur.

In an effort to provide more accurate safety ratings, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has recently introduced a specialized front-impact crash test known as the small overlap crash. These crashes involve a collision on the front corner of the vehicle, and are particularly dangerous in vans with thinner structural pillars and wide front windshields.

Two minivan models that passed IIHS’s safety tests (including the small overlap crash) include:

  • 2015 Honda Odyssey. The Odyssey was given good ratings across the board in the front small overlap, front moderate overlap, and side impact tests, as well as top marks in the roof strength and head restraint / seat safety. IIHS rated the Odyssey as a Top Safety Pick award winner, most notably due to its optional forward collision warning.
  • 2015 Toyota Sienna. The Sienna was given an acceptable rating in its small overlap protection, although the structure of the van did buckle by about five inches toward the driver. The front and side curtain airbags deployed and protected the test dummy’s head, while force sensor data showed that injuries to the dummy would have been minor. In addition, the Sienna was also given the Top Safety Pick award because of the 2015 model’s advanced front crash prevention rating, including a forward collision warning and automatic braking that reduces crash impact speeds by several miles per hour.

It is Vital to Keep Everyone in Your Vehicle Safe

When you examine your minivan’s crash test ratings, you should look for excellence in every category. A van that protects passengers but poses a danger to the driver may be “safer” in a parent’s eyes, but injury to the driver will ultimately affect the children as well. The right choice of vehicle should ensure that everyone has the best chance of walking away from an accident. For more insider tips, click the link on this page to order our free guide, 7 BIGGEST MISTAKES That Can Ruin Your California Injury Case.


Peter Steinberg
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Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Since 1982