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.
Buckling precious cargo into a late-model vehicle has gotten a bit easier in the past year, the Institute’s LATCH ease-of-use ratings show.
IIHS launched its ratings of child seat installation hardware in vehicles in June 2015. Out of 102 vehicles rated at that time, the majority were poor or marginal. Today, a total of 170 current models have been evaluated, and most are good or acceptable. Three models — the Audi Q7, Lexus RX and Toyota Prius — earn the top rating of good+, a distinction that no vehicle achieved last year.
A properly installed, age-appropriate child restraint can protect a child much better in a crash than a safety belt alone. LATCH, which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, is intended to make it easier for caregivers to install child restraints properly. Child restraints installed with LATCH are more likely to be put in correctly than restraints installed using the vehicle safety belt, IIHS research has shown.
Even with LATCH, installation errors are common. The Institute’s ratings are based on key ease-of-use criteria that have been shown to minimize mistakes.
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.
To view the multimedia release go to:
Think “muscle car” performance, and images of speed and power are more likely to come to mind than crash tests and safety ratings. Because no one buys a sports car to drive in the slow lane, the best all-¬ around occupant crash protection is crucial. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently put a trio of iconic sports coupes through their paces, and unlike more sedate sedans, none earns the scores needed to clinch a TOP SAFETY PICK award.
IIHS evaluated 2016 models of the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang in the full battery of crashworthiness evaluations. The Mustang comes closest to earning TOP SAFETY PICK, while the Camaro falls shortin one category and lacks an available front crash prevention system. The Challenger is most in need of improvement.
To qualify for TOP SAFETY PICK, vehicles must earn good ratings in the small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint evaluations and have a basic-¬rated front crash prevention system. To qualify for the Institute’s highest award, TOP SAFETY PICK+, vehicles must earn good ratings in the five crashworthiness tests and an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.
Three out of seven large pickup trucks evaluated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in a new round of crash tests earn an acceptable or higher rating for occupant protection in a small overlap front crash.
IIHS evaluated two body styles of each 2016 model-year 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.
IIHS last year decided it would test the two most popular variants of large pickups instead of just one after discovering that the Ford F-150 extended cab lacked structural countermeasures that helped the crew cab earn the top rating of good in the small overlap test. The test replicates what happens when a vehicle runs off the road and hits a tree or pole or clips another vehicle that has crossed the center line.
Ford improved the 2016 model F-150 SuperCab to clinch a good rating in the small overlap crash test, up from the 2015 model’s marginal rating. The F-150 is the only large pickup in the latest test group to earn the Institute’s top rating in the test. It joins the F-150 SuperCrew in earning a 2016 TOP SAFETY PICK award when equipped with Ford’s optional basic-rated forward collision warning system.
Vehicles that earn a basic rating for front crash prevention plus good ratings in the small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint evaluations qualify for TOP SAFETY PICK. To qualify for 2016 TOP SAFETY PICK+, a vehicle must earn good ratings in the five crashworthiness tests and an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.
The Toyota Prius v is the only midsize car out of 31 evaluated to earn a good rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s first-ever headlight ratings.
The best available headlights on 11 cars earn an acceptable rating, while nine only reach a marginal rating. Ten of the vehicles can’t be purchased with anything other than poor-rated headlights.
A vehicle’s price tag is no guarantee of decent headlights. Many of the poor-rated headlights belong to luxury vehicles.
The ability to see the road ahead, along with any pedestrians, bicyclists or obstacles, is an obvious essential for drivers. However, government standards for headlights, based on laboratory tests, allow huge variation in the amount of illumination that headlights provide in actual on-road driving. With about half of traffic deaths occurring either in the dark or in dawn or dusk conditions, improved headlights have the potential to bring about substantial reductions in fatalities.
Spring is around the corner, and it won’t be long before it’s prom and graduation seasons for many high schoolers. Rites of passage for many, these are times for teens to celebrate, but can also be times of poor decision-making, especially when vehicles are involved. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 2,524 teen drivers and passengers were killed and 177,000 were injured in 2013. Twenty-seven percent of these fatalities occurred between April and June, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
“The statistics are staggering, especially when you consider that most of these accidents and fatalities are preventable,” said Randy Petro, Mercury Insurance’s chief claims officer. “We don’t want any families to suffer through the loss of a child, so Mercury is taking action with the launch of the ‘Mercury Insurance Drive Safe Challenge.’”
The Mercury Insurance Drive Safe Challenge kicked off with a free defensive driving program, which included hands-on driving skills training and classroom material. An interactive website provides teens with detailed instruction, as well as gives parents the tools to shape responsible driving behavior.
To view the multimedia release go to:
Nearly 50 vehicles meet tougher criteria for 2016 to take home the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s TOP SAFETY PICK+ award, earning good ratings in all five IIHS crashworthiness evaluations and an advanced or higher rating for front crash prevention. An additional 13 models qualify for TOP SAFETY PICK.
The baseline requirements for both awards are good ratings in the small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests, as well as a standard or optional front crash prevention system. The 48 winners of the “plus” award have a superior- or advanced-rated front crash prevention system with automatic braking capabilities. These vehicles must stop or slow down without driver intervention before hitting a target in tests at 12 mph, 25 mph or both. Models with a basic-rated front crash prevention system, which typically only issues a warning and doesn’t brake, qualify for TOP SAFETY PICK.
IIHS inaugurated TOP SAFETY PICK in the 2006 model year to help consumers home in on vehicles with the best safety performance. The TOP SAFETY PICK+ accolade was introduced in 2012 to recognize vehicles that offer an advanced level of safety.
When IIHS began its booster seat ratings in 2008, most models failed to consistently provide good belt fit — the main purpose of a booster. This year, all new models evaluated by the Institute provide good or acceptable fit for typical 4 to 8 year-olds in most cars, minivans or SUVs.
Out of 23 new models evaluated, 20 earn the highest rating of BEST BET, meaning they are likely to provide good fit for a 4- to 8-year-old child in almost any car, minivan or SUV. Another three models are rated GOOD BETs, meaning they provide acceptable fit in most vehicles. There are no new models in the Not Recommended category, nor are there any with the Check Fit designation, which identifies seats that may work for some children in some vehicles.
The aluminum-body 2015 Ford F-150 crew cab swept the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s full slate of crashworthiness evaluations to qualify for a 2015 TOP SAFETY PICK award. The F-150 extended cab turned in a good performance in 4 of 5 assessments but stumbled in the small overlap front test. The results are the first ratings for large pickups in a group the Institute is evaluating this year.
The F-150 crew cab, which Ford calls the SuperCrew, earns good ratings for occupant protection in all five IIHS crashworthiness evaluations — small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint evaluations. The extended cab, or SuperCab, earns good ratings in the moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint evaluations but just a marginal rating for occupant protection in a small overlap front crash.