Why So Few Vehicles Get Top Safety Ratings Today

When you purchase a new vehicle, safety is likely one of the top priorities that you take into consideration when making your choice. However, if you were to begin shopping for a new vehicle today, you might be surprised to learn that just 15 vehicles currently make the list of "Top Safety Pick+" according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). This means that of the literally hundreds of new models sitting in dealership lots today, just a small handful actually receive top safety ratings.

Of all the options carmakers offer consumers, only a few get the highest safety ratings available. Why do so few vehicles meet the highest standards set by safety advocates?

The reason for this? New, stricter guidelines that were recently implemented by the IIHS.

Higher Standards and Stricter Guidelines

Specifically, these new IIHS guidelines have shifted the focus to not just how well drivers are protected in the event of a collision, but how well passengers in the front seat and back seat are protected as well. Most of the changes regarding standards and criteria are related to frontal collision tests, such as those simulating a vehicle colliding with a pole, tree, or other stationary object.

Aside from these new additions, it is worth noting that the existing requirements for obtaining a "Top Safety Pick+" designation remain unchanged. For example, vehicles must still receive high ratings in a number of other tests, including:

  • roof strength
  • head restraint
  • driver's side small and moderate overlap
  • frontal crash
  • advanced safety feature performance.

This is the first year the IIHS has included testing for not just driver's side small overlap, but front-passenger overlap as well. During this test, the vehicle is accelerated to a speed of 40 miles per hour before colliding with a metal barrier on the front passenger's side. The purpose of this test is to demonstrate how well a car's cabin is able to absorb force from a serious impact and protect passengers.

So, what was the main reason for implementation of these changes by IIHS? They have claimed the changes were put into place as a means of encouraging auto makers to focus more of their efforts on making sure a vehicle's passengers are just as protected as their drivers.

As it stands, many car buyers make the assumption that if a car receives great driver's side safety ratings, all other passengers in the vehicle are just as safe. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. Because of these stricter requirements for receiving the coveted "Top Safety Pick+" designation, it's likely that there will be some major changes and upgrades in vehicle safety across the board within the next few years.

What Are Some of the Safer Cars on the Market?

And, of course, in the meantime, vehicle manufacturers that have focused on driver and passenger safety from the start are being rewarded with "Top Safety Pick+" designations. Some of the 2018 models that have made this small list include:

  • Toyota Camry
  • Kia Forte Sedan
  • Hyundai Santa Fe/Sport
  • Lincoln Continental
  • Kia Soul.

It's also worth noting that while only a handful of vehicles have received the "Top Safety Pick+" rating, there are still nearly 50 vehicles that received the designation of "Top Safety Pick" by the IIHS. The requirements for receiving this are slightly less strict than the "plus" rating; but, of course, those in the market for the safest vehicle currently on the market should stick to the list of "Top Safety Pick+" options.

In the future, car manufacturers will have no choice but to improve their safety features for passengers if they want to remain competitive in today's market. In the meantime, buyers should do their homework when it comes to selecting vehicles that meet the strictest current standards for safety. All of this, in addition to practicing safe driving, can reduce one's risk of being injured in an accident. Unfortunately, one aspect beyond your control is the action of other drivers. Negligent driving by another driver can still result in a serious accident that affects you and perhaps even the passengers in your vehicle.

Have You Been Injured in an Accident?

If you have any questions about this topic or believe that someone else’s negligence or recklessness is responsible for your injuries, the attorneys at Stabinski Law can help. For 45 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless personal injury victims and their families throughout South Florida. We offer risk-free consultations and work on a contingency basis, which means that we do not require you to pay any fees until we have secured a recovery on your behalf. Contact us today by calling 305-964-8644 or filling out a free case evaluation form to find out how we can help you.

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