A recent video released by the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reveals in startling detail how different safety standards for cars can lead to dramatically different survival results for their human occupants. Even though no one is hurt, the video is terrifying to watch. It features two cars, a 2015 Nissan Tsuru and a 2016 Nissan Versa. Both cars are made in Mexico, but the Tsuru was made according to Mexican highway safety standards, while the Versa abides by US standards. The Tsuru is not sold in the US, while the Versa is.
As you can see in the video above, two cars hurtle at each other head-on going 80 mph (130 kph) with an exact 50% overlap. When they collide, the Tsuru crumples almost completely. The camera inside records a crash test dummy being hurled forward, its head smashing the windshield, and its body being crushed from the impact with the engine block. A human driver would almost certainly be dead from the crash. In the Versa, however, air bags deploy, and the car’s body compacts less than the Tsuru. It is likely the driver would have survived. The difference between the two cars, experts say, is the result of US regulations that compel automakers to build in traffic safety features like so-called crumple zones that help a car in an accident absorb impact.
The test was conducted by the IIHS and the Global New Car Assessment Program (Global NCAP) to reveal the often sad state of highway safety standards in some countries. The Tsuru has long been a popular car in Mexico because it is cheap to produce and therefore to buy. Millions of them have been sold over the last two decades and the car has become immensely popular among taxi drivers. But statistics show that the Tsuru can be a death trap. The car has been involved in over 4,000 deaths in Mexico between 2007 and 2012.
Knowing that the test was being conducted, Nissan quickly announced it would be discontinuing production of the Tsuru, but they has not said whether it would recall the hundreds of thousands of cars still on the road. It might make you think twice the next time you take a taxi in Mexico.