Safety group raises bar for automakers

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Over the last decade, vehicle safety has improved dramatically as automakers recognize that safety is a big selling point.

But, even as it announces its top safety picks for 2018, an agency that evaluates vehicle safety says automakers can do even better.

The Insurance Institute For Highway Safety says it’s raising the bar for automakers, creating tougher test criteria to make sure vehicles can protect people in crashes and do more to help prevent crashes that can injure or kill.

Crash tests have been part of the IIHS’s playbook for years to make sure drivers are protected, but this year it decided to add tests to see how well passengers are protected.

“We’ve been doing small overlap frontal crash tests on the driver’s side since 2012 and we’ve seen a lot of improvement on that side, but we weren’t seeing that kind of improvement for passengers, said IIHS president Adrian Lund.

He says the passenger side crash test was developed “after it became clear that some manufacturers weren’t paying enough attention to passenger side protection.”

Headlights that effectively light up the road are another area where the IIHS has raised its standards.

“We rate headlamps because when we look at how they light up the road many of them aren’t doing a very good job,” said Lund. “The difference between a headlamp that rates as ‘good’ as far as how far down the road you can see, and one that we rate as ‘poor,’ literally is night and day.”

Lund says because the most serious crashes happen at night, “we think it’s important that manufacturers improve how lamps light up the road.”

Preventing a crash with auto braking is also now part of the IIHS’s safety tests.

“All automakers have pledged to make auto braking standard equipment on their vehicles by 2022,” said Lund.

Fifteen vehicles earned the IIHS’s top safety pick award including several of Hyundai’s Kia and Genesis models. Mercedes Benz, Subaru, Toyota and Ford also had models listed as top safety picks.

Here is a link to all the top safety picks, which includes the reasons why they were chosen.

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