US safety institute considers to toughen up frontal crash tests image

This move is prompted by a new study made by the US IIHS that shows that ride side front passengers are not as well protected as drivers.

A recent study conducted by the US Insurance Institute from Highway Safety revealed that while drivers of vehicles that received good ratings in institute’s challenging small overlap test can expect to be protected well in case of a crash, the passengers sitting next to them might not be so lucky. Therefore, the results made IIHS to consider to tighten its evaluation by adding a passenger-side rating as part of its Top Safety Pick criteria. “This is an important aspect of occupant protection that needs more attention,” said Becky Mueller, an IIHS senior research engineer and the lead author of the study. “More than 1,600 right-front passengers died in frontal crashes in 2014.” The Institute said a passenger-side small overlap ratings could start next year and make it a requirement for one of its safety awards as early as 2018.

The small overlap test was designed to replicate what happens when the front corner of a vehicle crashed at 40 mph with another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole. Since it was introduced back in 2012, 13 manufacturers have made structural changes to 97 vehicles. Of these, nearly three-quarters earned a good rating after the changes.

“It’s not surprising that automakers would focus their initial efforts to improve small overlap protection on the side of the vehicle that we conduct the tests on,” David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer, said. “As time goes by, though, we would hope they ensure similar levels of protection on both sides.”