IIHS Links Crash Test Data to Fatalities

According to a new report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), drivers of vehicles that performed poorly in side-impact crash tests performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are more likely to die in accidents than drivers of higher-rated models.

Among the models that performed poorly in the NHTSA’s side-impact test are the Dodge Caliber, Chevrolet Aveo and Hyundai Accent.

According to the report, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety compared its own test data with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s fatality records. The IIHS found that drivers of models it had awarded a “good” rating for driver’s-side impact collisions were 70% less likely to die from such a collision than were drivers of models that had received its lowest rating of “poor”.

In a statement, the IIHS’ chief research officer David Zuby said, “This was our first look at how our ratings correlate with actual crash data since we started side tests in 2003, and the numbers confirm that these are meaningful ratings.”

In 2009, 27 percent of traffic accident fatalities in the U.S. were caused by side-impact collisions.

The IIHS also acknowledged that automakers have made progress in their efforts to protect drivers involved in side-impact crashes. During the first two years the nonprofit institute conducted side-crash tests, about one third of the cars and light trucks tested received a “good” rating.

For current model vehicles, that number rose to 78 percent. The only current models to receive the institute’s lowest rating of “poor” were the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon crew cab pickups, the two-door Jeep Wrangler and the Hyundai Accent. The two-door Jeep Wrangler tested by the Institute didn’t include the optional side airbags while the Accent, Colorado and Canyon come with side airbags as part of their standard equipment packages.

The Chevy Aveo and Dodge Caliber were among eleven current models to receive a “marginal” rating for their performance in driver’s side impact collisions.

Last week, the Transportation Department announced that it will begin requiring that all new cars sold in the U.S. meet minimum standards for protecting against side-window ejections of passenger which frequently occur in rollover accidents.

Automakers are expected to begin using stronger side-window glass and side-curtain airbags to meet the more stringent requirements. The Transportation Department has said that the new requirements will be phased in over the next several years. All new vehicles sold in the U.S. in model year 2018 will be required to meet the new safety standards.

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