NEW YORK – This past year has been a struggle for automakers; issuing recall after recall but the industry may be finding a ‘sweet spot’ for safety. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), more than 60 vehicles received 2016 safety awards.
The awards are created to help consumers determine what vehicles are the safest, without having to look at a multitude of individual test results.
According to IIHS President Adrian Lund, “vehicles have never been safer.”
“Just about every year, we make it a little more difficult for a vehicle to get on the list,” Lund said.
For the 2016 models, the IIHS upped its standards for small-overlap crash tests and dozens of models surprisingly fared well despite a year full of recalls.
“The small overlap crash test is important because about a quarter of serious and fatal injuries that occur in frontal crashes occur in these kinds of collisions,” Lund said. “To get a good rating, the vehicle’s front end must manage the crash energy so that the occupant compartment stays in tact to minimize the injury risk to the driver inside.”
A Queens car accident attorney at Cellino & Barnes says recalls are still a big concern, however.
“It’s encouraging to see that automakers are building safety into their vehicles,” Ross Cellino, a Queens car accident lawyer said. “But millions of car owners were issued recall notices and hundreds more were injured due to defective or faulty parts.”
According to Lund, 48 of the 61 vehicles receiving awards earned the IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK+, the institute’s highest award.
To qualify, each vehicle must earn a ‘good’ rating in 5 different crash tests. On top of that, vehicles must also pass ‘front-crash prevention’ tests; which assess automatic braking systems.
“Automatic braking systems have proven that they can prevent accidents,” Cellino said. “Unfortunately, some automakers are charging consumers thousands of dollars extra to have this safety feature.”
Many safety advocates argue that automatic braking systems should be standard on all new models. Federal regulators said in September that at least 10 automakers agreed to make automatic brakes standard equipment on all new vehicles, but the companies did not set a timetable on the introduction of the standard safety features.
Many regulators are still seeking government rules that would require the feature on all cars and trucks – similar to airbags.
Lund says the IIHS wants to encourage the use of technology that can prevent a crash but also rewards vehicles that can protect a driver and his/her family in case a crash does happen.