Safest Vehicles Named By IIHS For 2015

February 20, 2015

More than 70 vehicles earned one of the two highest awards from the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) in 2015, but less than 40 vehicles earned awards in 2014. Since the standards for front crash prevention have been steadily heightened for the past three years, experts were especially happy to see this increase. Although the standards for Top Safety Pick+ were raised, the criteria remain the same for Top Safety Pick. This includes a good rating in roof strength, moderate overlap front, head restraints and side. It also includes an acceptable or good rating in the small overlap front test. When ratings are superior to these standards, they may qualify for the Top Safety Pick+ award.

In 2014, vehicles only needed a basic rating in front crash prevention to earn the Top Safety Pick+ award. If a warning system does not include auto-brake but does meet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's criteria, it would qualify. Vehicles must be able to slow down or stop without driver intervention to qualify for a superior or advanced rating. They must be able to do this at speeds of 12 and 25 miles per hour, and they must be able to stop before hitting a target.

Most vehicles made within the last few years have not had difficulty meeting the IIHS' moderate overlap front, roof strength, side and head restraints criteria. When the small front overlap test was introduced in 2012, it brought some difficulty in qualification for some vehicles. The test essentially replicates what would happen if the front side of a vehicle hit another vehicle or object. In 2013, only 13 vehicles made the cut for the Top Safety Pick+ distinction. Auto manufacturers have been working hard to continually improve their vehicles to meet these standards. One way to do this is to modify the airbags and structure of the vehicle.

One example of a vehicle that was successfully modified to meet the Top Safety Pick+ standards was the Honda CR-V. In prior years, the small SUV only had a marginal rating. In the crash test, the steering column shifted to the side after the airbag deployed. By making some changes to the vehicle's front end, restraints and occupant compartment, the 2015 model ranked high enough to earn the top distinction with a good rating. Another vehicle earning this rating was the Toyota Prius, which was greatly improved from prior years' models.

Experts say that the growing list of 2015 Top Safety Pick+ winners is proof that front crash prevention is becoming a bigger priority to manufacturers. There were 27 vehicles earning superior ratings, and 33 vehicles earned the advanced rating. Since some of these vehicles did not meet all of the crash safety criteria, not all of them earned Top Safety Pick+ awards. If vehicles come with front crash prevention systems, they are more likely to earn the Top Safety Pick+ distinction. Only a few automakers offer these systems. To learn more about safer vehicles and their insurance benefits, discuss concerns with an agent.

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