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Insurance institute putting vehicles to the test to increase highway safety

Ford recalls nearly 412K SUVs to fix fuel leaks
Posted at 2:04 PM, Oct 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-27 14:04:20-04

ARLINGTON, Va — Vehicles will be put to the test to see how safe they are in reducing highway fatalities.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is introducing a new, tougher side crash test to address higher-speed crashes that continue to cause fatalities. Only one out of 20 small SUVs passed the first test.

“We developed this new test because we suspected there was room for more progress, and these results confirm that,” IIHS President David Harkey says. “The good rating for the CX-5 shows that robust protection in a more severe side crash is achievable.”

Nine vehicles earned acceptable ratings with the exception of the Honda HR-V and Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross who received poor ratings after their tests.

“Obviously, these results aren’t great, but they’re in line with what we expected when we adopted this more stringent test,” says IIHS Senior Research Engineer Becky Mueller, whose research formed the foundation for the new test protocol.

The ratings highlight a wide range of performance among vehicles built to excel in an earlier version of the side test. That progress has saved lives. A study showed that vehicles with a good side rating is 70 percent less likely to die in a left-side crash than a driver of a vehicle with a poor rating. The new test reveals wide discrepancies in the degree of protection these small SUV's provide for the pelvis and the chest. Only five vehicles earn good or acceptable scores across the board for these injury measures.

Stronger structures are linked to higher survival rates. While all 20 small SUV's received good scores for their structures in the original test, only eight earn good ratings for structural integrity in the new, higher energy evaluation.

The B-pillar of the worst performer by this metric, the HR-V, began to tear away from the frame, allowing the side of the vehicle to crush inward almost to the center of the driver seat. The vehicles that earned marginal or poor overall ratings in the new test generally struggled with both structural issues and high chest and pelvis injury measurements from both dummies.

“There’s no single reason why so many side crashes still result in fatalities, but these results provide a roadmap for specific improvements that can save lives,” Mueller says.

The faster manufacturers can make such improvements the better.