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Status Report, Vol. 42, No. 6 | SPECIAL ISSUE: CRASHWORTHINESS OF CONVERTIBLES | May 31, 2007 Subscribe

How to minimize the safety tradeoffs

It's fun. That's the whole point of driving around with the top down, and a motorist who enjoys his convertible is Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

"It's a great way to get out and enjoy a sunny day," Lund says, "relaxing along a country road with the wind in your hair."

Lund's primary transportation isn't his convertible. It's a four-door hardtop. A birthday gift from his wife a few years ago, the convertible is reserved for outings dictated mostly by the weather. It isn't one of the 10 convertibles the Institute recently evaluated. It's several model years older, but the new version of Lund's Volvo convertible does earn good crashworthiness ratings based on front, side, and rear tests.

"Obviously I know how important safety is. I've spent virtually my entire career working to reduce the risk of motor vehicle travel," Lund points out. "But I also know that people choose to buy different vehicles for lots of different reasons. If it's to ferry the kids around, it might be a minivan. If it's to have fun, it might be a convertible. Whatever kind of vehicle you buy, it's important to factor in safety by comparing the specific models that suit your purposes and then choosing one of the safer ones."

Safer choices among convertibles are those that have good crash test ratings or that are modified from hardtops with good ratings. They have low driver death rates, low insurance loss results, and they're equipped with electronic stability control. It's also important to choose a convertible that has rollbars designed to preserve some headroom if your car rolls over.

Then go on out and drive around with the top down. Lund will be out there too.

IIHS publishes first convertible ratings

The Saab 9-3 and Volvo C70 earn the Top Safety Pick award in the Institute's first tests of 10 midsize convertible models.

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