Convertibles are iconic for their open-air, sporty character that contributes to a unique driving experience that enthusiasts crave. In order to make convertibles a reality, there is a safety sacrifice by forgoing a rigid roof. This begs the question: Are convertibles safe cars?
Convertibles, also popularly referred to as cabriolets or drop-tps, are vehicles with roofs that can be folded or retracted to expose the cabin to the open air. There are a few different designs of convertibles including soft tops, hardtops, and targa tops:
Soft Tops: This design is characterized by a folding roof made of fabric or vinyl. They are typically folded manually but automatic folding soft tops are becoming more popular.
Hardtops: Hardtop convertibles feature an automatically retractable and self storing roof. They are rigid in construction and offer more protection than traditional textile soft tops.
Targa Tops: Considered a “”semi-convertible” design, targa tops have a removable roof section that provides part of the open air experience and retains a rigid structure- typically with a roll bar behind the seats.
Safety Concerns With Convertibles
One of the main safety concerns surrounding convertibles is the elevated injury risk during rollover accidents. The open air design of convertibles makes occupants extra vulnerable in the case of a rollover accident. Auto manufacturers have come up with some creative designs to protect occupants in these types of accidents, more on that later.
Convertibles tend to have less structural rigidity compared to their hardtop counterparts. A keen driver will notice more flex in the chassis and less precise handling. Soft tops are most prone to chassis flex, while hard tops and targa tops fare slightly better in comparison.
More of an issue for the non-soft top options, hard tops and targa tops generally add a lot of weight to the car to accommodate for a rigid roof or automatic folding designs. The added weight contributes to less precise handling and a lower MPG rating.
Safety Features In Modern Convertibles
The automotive industry has come a long way in improving the safety of convertible vehicles.
Most modern convertibles are equipped with safety roll bars or pop-up rollover protection systems. Roll bars protrude past the “roofline” of the vehicle so occupants avoid getting crushed in a rollover crash. Pop-up systems have sensors which detect when a car is rolling over and deploys the roll bars to create a protective zone around the vehicle’s occupants.
Automotive manufacturers have developed reinforced car frames to enhance structural integrity, reducing the risk of a cabin collapse in a collision. As an added benefit, this compliments the handling characteristics of convertible vehicles.
Convertibles may come with advanced airbag systems, including side impact airbags in the seat, which make up for curtain airbags in traditional vehicles.
Safety With Some Compromise
Are convertibles safe cars? Yes, convertibles can be equipped with plenty of safety equipment that nearly make up for the added risk inherent to their design. Modern convertibles come with advanced safety mechanisms and designs that significantly reduce the risks drivers take when choosing an open-top driving experience. When choosing a convertible vehicle, reference the car’s safety features and crash test ratings by the NHTSA to ensure your safety in a collision. It’s important to remember that in a car accident, even the most well equipped vehicles can’t entirely prevent injuries. If you were injured in a car accident in your convertible, contact the Las Vegas car accident attorneys at Koch & Brim.