On the 20th of January, 2009, 56-year-old mother-of-three Judith Evans was killed when her Peugeot 107 hit a Vauxhall Vectra in a head-on collision in Buckinghamshire, UK. The matter recently went to court where it was heard that the victim sustained multiple fractures and chest and abdominal injuries which the Thames Valley Police noticed were unusually severe given the force of impact.
Evans' Peugeot 107 met all EuroNCAP safety standards, with the 107 and it's Citroen C1 and Toyota Aygo siblings having scored four stars in a 2005 test. It was fitted with front seatbelt pre-tensioners and load limiters along with front and side body airbags for both driver and passenger.
The investigation suggests it may have to do with weight. Not the weight of the Vectra compared to the 107, as Peugeot has suggested, but the weight of the 107's driver.
You see, Mrs Evans weighed close to 16 stone (102 kg / 225 U.S. lbs). Meanwhile Peugeot, following European regulations, never tested the 107 with a dummy weighing more than 12 stone 14 lbs (78 kg / 172 U.S. lbs). As such, the safety features built into the 107 weren't calibrated for a heavier occupant.
The Evans's family lawyer, asked Peugeot safety expert Richard Zeitouni: "Have you tested with any dummies more than 78kg?" Mr Zeitouni, replied that Peugeot had not.
Mr Horner then asked: "So you have not tested with a weight of dummy that corresponds to 50% of the male population?"
Mr Zeitouni answered: "When we designed this car we found it was good, adequate protection for the majority of occupants. It's an official dummy, a regulation dummy."
Peter Gloyns, a mechanical engineer from Vehicle Safety Consultancy (VSC) Ltd made this comment:
"The accident raises a serious question over the stability of the response of the total restraint system for an occupant of this build and weight in an accident of this severity in which it would be hoped that good protection could be offered."
The driver of the Vectra sustained fractures in her kneecap and internal bruising, but was otherwise unharmed in the crash.
A spokesperson from Peugeot told UK daily 'The Independent' that the company had no comment to make at this stage.
We'll have more on this case as we get it.
By Tristan Hankins