Only 15 new vehicles meet the enhanced IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) safety requirements and earned a rating of Top Safety Pick+, according to Consumer Reports last month. Many other new cars, trucks and SUVs were unable to meet the more stringent IIHS safety standards at this time.
The safety guidelines focus on the whether all front-seat passengers are well protected in frontal crashes that simulate striking a pole or tree; the IIHS calls this the small overlap test. Prior to 2017, only the driver’s side had this test. This test is considered critical to gauge safety, because the concentrated crash force in a small area can reveal how effectively the vehicle frame can absorb a major impact.
IIHS President Adrian Lund stated that drivers expect front-seat passengers to be protected in frontal crashes as well as they are. Several car brands appear to be taking the new safety standards at IIHS seriously. Hyundai, Toyota, and Subaru fared well in the small overlap test for the driver and front seat passenger. Toyota had the largest number of models – 10 – that were ranked either Top Safety Pick or Safety Pick+. Hyundai had nine vehicles with these designations. All models by Subaru except the BRZ won an IIHS award for safety.
Increased IIHS Standards Are Upping Safety Stakes for Auto Industry
For several years, IIHS has been increasing standards for auto manufacturers to earn the coveted Top Safety Pick+ designation. IIHS is encouraging the industry to boost protections for both passengers and drivers. Consumer Reports strongly encourages consumers to review crash-test ratings when considering a new car purchase. The agency also recommends a review of such critical safety data as braking distances and the ability to avoid accidents.
To obtain the desired Top Safety Pick+ status, the vehicle must score at least a ‘Good’ or ‘Acceptable’ rating for passenger small-overlap crashes. The higher safety criteria are in addition to current standards for high ratings for roof strength, moderate overlap frontal crash tests, and side crash tests.
What If Your Vehicle Is Not a Top Safety Pick?
Our personal injury attorneys at Neale & Fhima are pleased to know that IIHS is upping the game on auto safety standards, and that those 15 vehicles have earned a Top Safety Pick+ rating. But what about other vehicles that are not as safe? Previous IIHS studies have revealed numerous vehicles that have relatively poor safety test results that could cause serious injuries in car accidents. Seven of the worst in 2017 had the highest rate of driver deaths in car accidents. These were:
- Hyundai Accent
- Kia Rio
- Toyota Scion tC
- Chevrolet Spark
- Nissan Versa
- Ford Fiesta sedan
- Kia Soul.
The top three worst had more than 100 driver fatalities per one million registered vehicle years. Generally, four-door small and minicars had a high rate of 87 deaths per one million vehicle years, compared to only 6 for large, four-wheel-drive SUVs. Consumers who have a vehicle that has been shown to be unsafe should be concerned about what could happen in a serious accident.
There are two basic scenarios in a vehicle defect case where the manufacturer could be liable: (1) if the vehicle or vehicle part is defective or does not function as designed; (2) an unsafe design could lead to a serious injury or death in an accident. In either situation, the injured party may want to speak to a product liability attorney to determine whether the manufacturer may be held liable.
Injured in a Car Accident? Contact Neale & Fhima Personal Injury Attorneys
If you have been injured in a car accident, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries. If your injuries are due to a safety defect in your vehicle, you could receive a settlement for pain and suffering, lost wages and more. For a complimentary consultation about your car accident or product defect case, please contact us at Neale & Fhima by calling 949-661-1007.