Good Driver-Side Protection Not a Sign of Passenger Protection

When shopping for a new car, one of the most important factors to review is the results of crash safety testing. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is one of several agencies that test the crash safety of new vehicles before they enter the market. Now, the IIHS is warning consumers that some crash test results, such as driver side-protection, do not carry over to all areas of the vehicle.

Passenger-Side Impact Tests Yield Troubling Results

Up until recent years, front- and side-impact testing mainly focused on the driver’s side of the vehicle with the logic that every vehicle has a driver, but not all vehicles have passengers. Automakers focused mainly on driver safety, leaving potential gaps in safety coverage for passengers.

The IIHS typically performs a small overlap crash test where it simulates a crash between 25 percent of the front driver’s side of the vehicle and a fixed object. The IIHS designed the test to simulate striking a tree or telephone pole or clipping another vehicle.

A recent test of seven small SUVs with good driver-side small overlap crash ratings found that the same test performed on the passenger side yielded very different results. Only one of the seven vehicles, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson, earned a good rating for safety in a small overlap passenger side crash. The rest of the vehicles earned acceptable to poor ratings.

IIHS to Include Passenger-side Safety Ratings

With the results of the passenger-side small overlap test, the IIHS will now consider including passenger-side ratings as part of its TOP SAFETY PICK vehicle safety rating criteria. This information will be important for people who carpool, transport family, or typically have passengers in their vehicles. The new safety ratings also hope to spur automakers to add additional focus to passenger-side safety in both front and back areas.

The driver-side improvements in most vehicles are not visible from the outside. In fact, most vehicles appear symmetrical until an impact occurs. Vehicles like the 2015 Toyota RAV4 look identical outside, but in the collision, tests allowed 13 more inches of intrusion on the passenger side in comparison to the driver’s side.

Keeping Your Family Safe in Your Vehicle

While purchasing a vehicle with good safety ratings is important, safe driving practices are the most important way to avoid injury in your vehicle. By reducing bad driving habits such as cell phone use, drowsy and distracted driving, and road rage, you can improve your safety on the road. In addition to paying attention to your own driving, watch your teens. Considering limiting the amount of time they can have passengers in the car.

Unfortunately, you cannot always rely on your vehicle’s safety systems to completely protect you from harm. When you or a loved one suffers serious injury in an accident caused by a negligent driver, call Cordisco & Saile for injury claim help.

Contact us at 215-643-2335 to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our Pennsylvania or New Jersey car accident attorneys.