A new crash test program from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety aims to ensure that manufacturers pay attention to the safety of front passengers as well as drivers.
The test was developed after it became clear that some manufacturers were giving short shrift to the right side of the vehicle when it comes to small overlap front crash protection. A good or acceptable passenger-side rating will be required to qualify for the Institute’s 2018 TOP SAFETY PICK+ award.
The first test group in the passenger-side small overlap front test program did better overall than vehicles IIHS previously evaluated for research. Ten out of 13 midsize cars tested earn a good rating, while one is acceptable and two earn a marginal rating.
In contrast with a group of 2014-16 model small SUVs tested for research, none of the 2017-18 midsize cars had a poor or marginal structural rating. Instead, the biggest problem in the new group was inconsistent airbag protection in five cars, which would put passengers’ heads at risk.
Four out of eight small pickup trucks evaluated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety earn good ratings for occupant protection in all five IIHS crashworthiness evaluations, but the lack of an automatic emergency braking system and poor-rated headlights means these pickups fall short of qualifying for either of the Institute’s safety awards.
IIHS engineers evaluated two body styles of each pickup — crew cab and extended cab. Crew cabs have four full doors and two full rows of seating. Extended cabs have two full front doors, two smaller rear doors and compact second-row seats. The Institute tests the two most popular versions of pickups because their performance can vary by body style. The ratings in this round of evaluations apply to 2017 models.
Adults have gotten the message that it’s safer for kids to ride in the back seat properly restrained, but when it comes to their own safety, there is a common misperception that buckling up is optional. Among adults who admit to not always using safety belts in the back seat, 4 out of 5 surveyed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety say short trips or traveling by taxi or ride-hailing service are times they don’t bother to use the belt.
The new survey reveals that many rear-seat passengers don’t think belts are necessary because they perceive the back seat to be safer than the front. This shows a clear misunderstanding about why belts are important, no matter where a person sits in a vehicle.
Before the majority of Americans got into the habit of buckling up, the back seat was the safest place to sit, and the center rear seat was the safest place of all in 1960-70s’ era vehicles. In recent decades, high levels of restraint use, the advent of belt pretensioners, load limiters and airbags, plus crashworthy vehicle designs have narrowed the safety advantages of riding in the rear seat for teens and adults.
The Lincoln Continental, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the Toyota Avalon come out at the top of a group of six large cars recently evaluated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The three cars qualify for TOP SAFETY PICK+, the Institute’s highest award. The Tesla Model S, the Chevrolet Impala and the Ford Taurus fall short of any award because they each earn only an acceptable rating in the small overlap front test.
Vehicles qualify for either the TOP SAFETY PICK or TOP SAFETY PICK+ award if they have good ratings from IIHS in five crashworthiness tests — small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints — and an available front crash prevention system that earns a superior or advanced rating. To qualify for TOP SAFETY PICK+, a vehicle also must come with good or acceptable headlights
New midsize SUV ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show that headlights are improving when it comes to visibility, but many still need to do a better job of lighting the road ahead while limiting bothersome glare.
The 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe and the 2017 Volvo XC60 are the only models available with good-rated headlights among the 19 midsize SUVs and 18 midsize luxury SUVs evaluated in this new round of tests. Twelve SUVs are available with headlights rated acceptable, while 23 aren’t available with anything other than marginal- or poor-rated headlights.
Two all-electric vehicles fall short of meeting the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s awards criteria, but consumers who want to minimize gas consumption while also prioritizing safety can choose from two plug-in hybrids that earn the 2017 TOP SAFETY PICK+ award.
The two recently evaluated all-electric models are the 2017 Tesla Model S and the 2017 BMW i3. The plug-in hybrid models are the Chevrolet Volt, whose award was announced in December, and the Toyota Prius Prime.
To qualify for the 2017 TOP SAFETY PICK award, a vehicle must earn good ratings in all five crashworthiness evaluations — small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints — and come with a front crash prevention system that earns an advanced or superior rating. The “plus” is awarded to vehicles that meet all those criteria and also come with good or acceptable headlights.
Last December, nearly one-third of all car crash fatalities involved a drunk driver, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Today, to help make our roads safer during the holiday season, the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) launched the 13th annual “Project Roadblock” initiative, in which local broadcast TV stations donate airtime to support NHTSA and the Ad Council’s “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving” PSA (public service advertising) campaign.
To help the campaign’s message reach those who could benefit most, the Ad Council is conducting a special push to TV stations in the 10 states that accounted for 53% of all alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2015: Texas, California, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Illinois, and South Carolina.
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Consumers who choose a 2017 TOP SAFETY PICK+ award winner shouldn’t have trouble seeing the road on nighttime drives. Good or acceptable ratings in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s new headlight evaluations set the latest crop of qualifiers apart. Thirty-eight models earn the “plus” accolade, and 44 earn TOP SAFETY PICK.
IIHS toughened the criteria for TOP SAFETY PICK+ to reflect new headlight evaluations launched in 2016. The recognition program is meant to encourage manufacturers to offer state-of-the-art protection for people in crashes, along with features that help drivers avoid crashes in the first place. In addition to good or acceptable headlights, the latter includes automatic braking technology, which has been part of the criteria since 2015.
For both awards, models must earn good ratings in the Institute’s small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests, as well as an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention with standard or optional autobrake. Headlights are factored in only for the top award.
The latest booster seat ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show that child seat manufacturers have mastered something that once eluded them: building a seat that provides good safety belt fit for the typical 4-¬ to 8-¬year-¬old passenger.
Out of 53 new models evaluated, 48 earn the top rating of BEST BET, meaning they are likely to provide good belt fit for a 4 to 8 year-¬old in almost any car, minivan or SUV. When the Institute first began rating boosters in 2008, only a quarter of the seats evaluated earned the BEST BET designation.
Drivers of late-model pickup trucks are likely to find themselves squinting into the darkness or temporarily blinding other drivers, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's latest headlight ratings show.
All four small pickups evaluated are available only with headlights that earn a poor rating. The same goes for 3 out of 7 large pickups. Only one large pickup, the Honda Ridgeline, is available with good-rated headlights, though all but the most expensive trim levels come with poor ones.
Pickups are the third vehicle category to be put through the IIHS headlight evaluations. Midsize cars were the first in March, followed by small SUVs in July.
IIHS launched its headlight ratings after finding that government standards based on laboratory tests allow for huge variation in the amount of illumination headlights provide in on-road driving. In the Institute's evaluations, engineers measure how far light is projected from a vehicle's low beams and high beams as the vehicle travels straight and on curves. Glare from low beams for oncoming drivers also is measured.
Not a single small SUV out of 21 tested earns a good rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s headlight evaluations, and only four are available with acceptable-rated headlights.
Among the 21 vehicles, there are 47 different headlight combinations available. More than two-thirds of them are rated poor, making this group of vehicles even more deficient when it comes to lighting than the midsize cars that were the first to be rated earlier this year.
Headlight performance in today’s vehicles varies widely. Government standards are based on laboratory tests, which don’t accurately gauge performance in real-world driving. The issue merits attention because about half of traffic deaths occur either in the dark or around dawn or dusk.
As with midsize cars, the IIHS evaluations of small SUVs showed that a vehicle’s price tag doesn’t correspond to the quality of headlights. More modern lighting types, including high-intensity discharge (HID) and LED lamps, and curve-adaptive systems, which swivel in the direction of steering, also are no guarantee of good performance.
Drivers of vehicles with good small overlap front ratings from the Insurance Institute from Highway Safety can expect to be protected well in a frontal crash involving the left corner of the vehicle. But how would the passengers sitting next to them fare in a right-side small overlap crash? A new study shows that good protection doesn’t always extend across the front seat.
The Institute conducted 40 mph passenger-side small overlap tests on seven small SUVs with good driver-side small overlap ratings. Only one of the vehicles, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson, performed at a level corresponding to a good rating, and the others ran the gamut from poor to acceptable.
The results have prompted IIHS to consider instituting a passenger-side rating as part of its TOP SAFETY PICK criteria.
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