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Safety accolades elude some large cars in IIHS testing

West Virginia motorists who are concerned about their safety when behind the wheel may be interested in knowing the part that auto insurers play in determining the crashworthiness of cars, trucks, and SUVs. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a non-profit organization that is funded by the industry, puts vehicles of all sizes and categories through a series of crash tests and then ranks them according to the results. Although large cars are generally thought to be safer, not all of the large cars examined through early July 2017 have earned the IIHS's top accolade.

Five tests are conducted as part of the ranking process. One of them, the small overlap front test, is designed to measure a vehicle's response to a crash that impacts its front driver-side corner. This test simulates a collision with a stationary object such as a telephone pole. First used in 2012, the Tesla Model S, Chevrolet Impala and Ford Taurus all experienced problems with this test in 2017.

According to a vice president for the IIHS, the Model S's seat belt is not strong enough. In tests, the head of the dummy that was used to simulate a driver struck the steering wheel upon impact. In what was its first-ever test for small overlap protection, the Impala also left its dummy's head partially unprotected. The Taurus exposed its dummy's lower left leg to injuries in the crash.

Regardless of the crashworthiness of a vehicle, car accidents can result in serious injuries that require lengthy periods of expensive medical treatment. When an accident is due to the negligence of another driver, injured victims might want to meet with an attorney to see how best to seek compensation for those and other expenses.

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