It’s a question often asked by those considering a convertible for the first time. The lack of a roof can be a little disconcerting; you are no longer cocooned inside a metal box but open to the elements. The engine and wind noise are louder and other cars seem more real but is there good reason to be concerned? How safe are convertible cars?
In reality though convertibles have had high levels of safety for some time now. Handling and stability of cars has improved to a level where rolled cars are a very rare occurrence. Added to that modern convertible cars have reinforced windscreen frames and hidden roll over bars which pop up should the car become dangerously unstable. There is still a small inherent risk by not having a fixed hard roof but statistically it is very small. We’re not aware of any official figures on the subject but it’s certainly not enough to put us off driving convertibles every day.
Wearing a seat belt is of course particularly important when it comes to driving or being a passenger in a convertible car. When there is no roof on the vehicle seat belts can be the last thing keep occupants inside during accident. This also goes for pets and children; keep the safely restrained so that they cannot climb or fall out.
Most pop-up roll bars are mounted behind the seats either behind or inside the head restraints. During normal driving they are hidden from view but should the car sense that it is becoming dangerously unstable (through gyroscopes and accelerometers) it sets off a small explosive charge which launches the roll bar into position in an instant.
Another key element that aids safety for convertible cars is the way open-top travel makes the driver more aware of the world around them. There are less (if any) blind spots when maundering and you are much more aware of other cars through the sense of hearing as well as vision.
Accidents in any car can cause serious injury whether convertible or not. We all have to make our own decisions about such things but you are probably taking a greater risk walking down the street than you are by choosing to drive a convertible.