Naturally, you want to drive the safest vehicle possible. And, while companies often boast about their IIHS Safety Ratings, many of us don’t know exactly what that means. So, let’s run through what it take to be an IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK+.
The IIHS Top Safety Pick
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is the authority for safe automotive design. For years, they’ve been awarding TOP SAFETY PICK and TOP SAFETY PICK+ designations to new vehicles. In the words of the IIHS, “To qualify for 2017 TOP SAFETY PICK+, a vehicle must earn good ratings in the five crashworthiness tests, an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention and an acceptable or good headlight rating.”
The five crashworthiness tests are as follows: moderate overlap frontal, small overlap frontal, side, roof strength, and head restraint. Importantly, these tests exhaust the most common and deadly crash scenarios. So if your vehicle has received five-star ratings in every category, you can drive with extra security.
Front Crash Prevention
The safest vehicles should not only mitigate the seriousness of collisions, but also increase the likelihood of avoiding collisions altogether.
Now, nearly all new vehicles have available crash avoidance technology. Forward collision braking, lane-keeping assistance, and pedestrian detection are only a few of the tools that drivers can add to their vehicles. Consequently, the IIHS has begun considering front crash prevention systems as part of their ratings. These systems are rated as basic, advanced or superior. To receive the highest rating, vehicles must have automatic braking proven to reduce speeds in testing.
Other New Categories
Obviously, the foundational technology in automobiles evolves quickly (the Cadillac CT6 has infrared pedestrian detection!). So the criteria for evaluating their safety must evolve quickly, too. That’s why the IIHS is constantly adding new categories to their safety awards.
- IIHS TOUGHGUARD
- A new test for semi-trailer underride guards.
- “The idea is to stop a smaller vehicle from sliding beneath a high-riding trailer in a rear-impact crash to preserve survival space for the people inside the lower-riding vehicle.”
- Headlight requirements have also become a greater part of overall TOP SAFETY PICK+ criteria.
- IIHS President, Adrian Lund, says “so few vehicles have headlights that do their job well.” But what makes headlights good?
- Sensors measure the distance light, with a minimum intensity of 5 lux, travels from the headlights.
- Measured in five directions.
- Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH)
- Tested for accessibility of lower anchors, force, clearance angle, location, and confusing hardware.
Clearly, a lot goes into making a vehicle safe by industry standards. And as long as those industry standards keep climbing higher, our vehicles should be able to keep up with the demands of modern driving.