Auto safety remains a top consideration among new-car shoppers and with good reason. Though the number of traffic fatalities dropped by 2.1 percent last year and remain at historic lows, motor vehicle collisions still claimed 32,850 lives according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
To be sure, today’s cars are safer than ever, but as ongoing crash testing conducted by NHTSA and the insurance industry-supported Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) proves, some vehicles inherently do a better job in this respect than others. At that, so many autos had been performing so well in such tests both organizations recently revamped their evaluation procedures to actually make it more difficult for a given model to receive a top score.
The IIHS added a so-called small overlap frontal crash test to its evaluation arsenal that purports to mimic the effects of a collision with a tree or utility pole at 40 mph in more of glancing blow, rather than a full-frontal or offset frontal collision. Passing the new test is apparently no easy task, with many popular models that otherwise perform well in the institute’s other evaluations failing to make the grade. To earn an IIHS “Top Safety Pick” certification, a vehicle now has to not only earn top (“good”) ratings in the Institute’s moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint crash tests, but a “good” or “acceptable” ranking in the small overlap frontal crash test.
For its part, NHTSA updated its crash test ratings beginning with cars from the 2011 model year, adding side pole testing, using different sized crash-test dummies, collecting more crash data and compiling the data into a single overall score – still expressed in a five-star system – for each vehicle evaluated.
The next frontier in auto safety lies in advanced technology that’s designed to help drivers avoid, or at least minimize the effects of a forward collision.
Read More from the original source on FORBES