Each year the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) hands out the Top Safety Pick award to deserving vehicles of that year. Those in mechanic colleges may know that the IIHS is the same institute that performs and regulates the majority of crash testing in the United States. Last year, only 39 cars were given a top safety pick rating, compared to 71 cars this year. So what has changed in a year?
New Safety Standards
A Top Safety Pick award is earned by receiving a “good” or “acceptable” rating in the small overlap front test and a “good” rating in each of the roof strength, head restraint, moderate overlap front and moderate overlap side tests. Vehicles are scored extra if they have a front crash prevention system. The increase in top safety cars can be attributed in part to the introduction of the small overlap front test in 2013. Many vehicles performed poorly on this test, leading auto manufacturers to make improvements to their models throughout the year.
2014’s Top Safety Picks
The IIHS divides vehicles into various categories, such as “small cars,” “large luxury cars,” “minivans” and “small SUVS.” Some of the top vehicles in these categories were the 2015 Chevrolet Volt, the 2015 Honda Odyssey, the 2015 Infiniti Q70 and the 2015 Honda CR-V. All of these vehicles received a score of “good” across nearly all categories. The good news for auto buyers and those in auto sales college is that almost every major car company, including Ford, Honda, Toyota and Chevrolet all received top safety awards this year.
New Safety Features: Adaptive Headlights
Along with new safety standards issued by the IIHS, new safety innovations have helped to increase the number of Top Safety awards this year. One of these safety features is adaptive headlights, which swivel to see around bends in the road. A study performed in the U.S. concluded that adaptive headlights held a significant advantage over fixed halogen headlights, and by 2014, adaptive headlights were standard on 14 per cent of models and optional on 22 per cent.
Improved Booster Seats
In 2014, there were a record 27 new booster seat models on the market. In order to receive an award from the IIHS, a booster seat must earn a rating of GOOD BET or BEST BET and have proper fitting in the lap and shoulder belts. Some of the top rated booster seats of 2014 include the Britax Frontier 85, the Graco High Back TurboBooster Elite and the Safety 1st Boost Air Protect.
Better Underride Guards
Transport truck accidents occur far too often on our highways, which is why underride guards have become a necessary safety feature. Accidents where cars become trapped under the trailer often lead to more fatalities. Experts pursing auto careers in safety testing know that there is still much more work needed to improve the safety of underride guards. Most semi-trucks are required to have underride guards – barrier devices which help prevent fatalities in the instance of a car crashing into the back of a truck. Major improvements to underride guards have helped prevent instances of cars sliding underneath the trailer.
What is one automobile feature you believe could benefit from improved safety?