Entries in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (6)


Partial Collisions Prove More Dangerous in New Crash Test

Fstop/Photodisc/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- While most modern cars offer good protection in head-on collisions, safety experts say small overlap crashes are a different story.  Those crashes primarily affect a car’s outer edges, which aren’t well protected, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The IIHS released its findings Tuesday and said that only three of 11 midsize luxury and near-luxury cars put through the new overlap frontal crash test passed with good or acceptable ratings.

Overlap crashes are responsible for a quarter of all fatal front-end collisions, and as the new crash test found, most cars -- domestic and foreign -- are unprepared to keep drivers safe in one of these crashes.

“Nearly every new car performs well in other frontal crash tests conducted by the Institute and the federal government, but we still see more than 10,000 deaths in frontal crashes each year,” IIHS President Adrian Lund said in a news release.  “Small overlap crashes are a major source of these fatalities.”

The key to protection in any crash is a strong safety cage that resists deformation to maintain survival space for occupants.

“It’s packaging 101.  If you ship a fragile item in a strong box, it’s more likely to arrive at its destination without breaking.  In crashes, people are less vulnerable to injury if the occupant compartment remains intact,” said Lund.

The IIHS also released a video with side-by-side comparisons of the dangers and damage between head-on and overlap collisions.  In head-on crashes, the force is spread across the entire front-end safety cage of the vehicle.  Cars are designed today to absorb impact in the center of the vehicle, not the corners.

“The main thing that needs to happen to provide better crash protection in these types of crashes is a better safety cage,” said Lund.

When put through the new test, the Acura TL and Volvo S60 earned good ratings, while the Infiniti G earned acceptable ratings.  The Acura TSX, BMW 3 series, Lincoln MKZ and Volkswagen CC earned marginal ratings.  The Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Lexus IS 250/350, Audi A4 and Lexus ES 350 each earned a poor rating.  All of these cars are 2012 models.

“What we’re seeing is the Insurance Institute is going to push the industry into further improving the crash protection in cars for the future,” said Consumer Reports Deputy Automotive Editor Jeff Bartlett.  “The good news is that in years to come manufacturers will be looking very closely at this and making changes that will further improve their crash worthiness.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


SUVs, Pickups Less Deadly to Car Passengers

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- SUVs and pickups aren’t as deadly to passengers of cars and minivans as they used to be, according to a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

“Until recently, SUVs and pickups were more likely than cars or minivans of the same weight to be involved in crashes that killed occupants of other cars or minivans,” the nonprofit research group said in a statement Wednesday. “That’s no longer the case for SUVs, and for pickups the higher risk is much less pronounced than it had been.”

The group reported that in 2000-01 among 1 to 4-year-old vehicles weighing 3,000-3,499 pounds, SUVs were involved in crashes that killed car/minivan occupants at a rate of 44 deaths per million registered vehicle years. But by the end of the decade, the rate had dropped by nearly two-thirds.

Researchers say improved crash protection in the cars and minivans, including the addition of side airbags and stronger support structures, is one reason for the improvement. Later-model SUVs and pickups were also designed with smaller vehicle impacts in mind -- their front-ends have been better aligned with the energy-absorbing structures of cars.

Designs prior to about 2005-06 mismatched cars and SUVs/pickups, resulting in accidents where larger vehicles would ride up over the smaller ones, causing more trauma to passengers.

“By working together, the automakers got life-saving changes done quickly,” says Joe Nolan, the Institute’s chief administrative officer and a co-author of the new study. “The new designs have made a big difference on the road.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Today's SUVs Are Among the Safest Vehicles, Report Finds

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- SUVs, once considered one of the most dangerous vehicles on the road for their propensity to roll over, have reversed their reputation. They are now much safer than they used to be, according to a new report released Thursday.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says drivers of today's SUVs are among the least likely to die in a crash, thanks in large part to the availability of electronic stability control, or ECS.  The computer sensor technology automatically controls braking when it detects skids, helping vehicles stay upright and keeping drivers on their intended path.

Now that SUVs are less likely to roll over, the IIHS points out that they are safer than smaller cars because their larger size and weight offers drivers greater protection in a crash.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


IIHS Study: Many Tractor-Trailers Unsafe

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- More than 350 people are killed each year when their car strikes the back of a tractor-trailer and -- because of the height difference -- the car slides underneath, literally crushing the vehicle and often the passengers inside. There are safety standards in place to prevent these accidents -- many trucks have been equipped with impact guards designed to prevent such accidents -- but new tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety find those barriers often give way.

"Our tests show how easily some of these guards are failing at relatively moderate speeds," said Adrian Lund with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. He says the group wants the government to require tougher standards.

"You're buying a new car which has really state of the art frontal crash protection, but when you hit a truck, all those goes by the wayside," Lund said.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is calling on the government and the trucking industry to beef up the barriers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Red Light Cameras Cut Fatal Crashes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- U.S. cities with red light cameras have fewer fatal crashes than those that don't, according to a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The study found that the cameras lowered fatal, red light-running crashes by 24 percent and saved 159 lives in 14 of the country's largest cities between 2004 and 2008.

Moreover, the study also found that all fatal crashes at intersections with signals -- not just red light-running crashes -- dropped by 14 percent in cities that had cameras and went up by 2 percent in cities that didn't.

The institute estimates 815 lives could have been saved between the five years studied if red light cameras were operating in all 99 U.S. cities with populations over 200,000.  Today, about 500 cities have the cameras in place.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Insurance Institute Report Calls for Bumper Standards

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- A new report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is calling for federal bumper standards after a study of collisions between passenger cars and SUVs showed extensive damage in low speed collisions.

The institute tested seven pairs of vehicles in rear end collisions at just 10 miles an hour.  Each crash consisted of a car and an SUV from the same manufacturer.

The testers found that because the bumpers of SUVs don't line up with those of cars, collateral damage follows when they get into a crash.

"Bumpers are designed to bump," says the institute's Joe Nolan.  "They're supposed to be the first line of defense in low speed collisions.  When the bumpers don't line up, then they're hitting other parts of the car that aren't designed to be impacted, like hoods and trunks."

In one test, a Nissan Rogue -- an SUV -- was pushed into a Nissan Sentra sedan at 10 miles an hour.

"Instead of hitting the Sentra's bumper, it hits the Sentra's trunk and tail lamps.  And in turn, the Sentra bumper hits the Rogue's air condition condenser and the radiator, spilling all of its fluid," says Nolan.

Nolan adds, "So [with] this 10-mile-per-hour crash we have total over $7,000 in damages and one vehicle that needs to be towed away from the scene."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio