Certainly one of America’s two main automobile security testers made its crash checks tougher this yr. The outcomes haven’t been encouraging. However harder checks are supposed to push increased requirements, so the end result may drive improved security know-how in the long term.
America’s Two Crash Testing Companies
Many international locations crash-test automobiles, however America advantages from the work of two security testing organizations.
One is the federal authorities’s Nationwide Freeway Site visitors Security Administration (NHTSA). It was not concerned on this spherical of checks.
The opposite isn’t a authorities effort. A bunch of automobile insurance coverage corporations funds their very own security lab — the Insurance coverage Institute for Freeway Security (IIHS). Insurers earn more money when accidents are rarer and fewer lethal, so the insurance coverage trade makes use of the IIHS to push the auto trade to develop safer automobiles.
The institute’s checks are typically considered harder than authorities checks, partly as a result of it might modify its testing packages and not using a prolonged public remark interval.
That’s what it did this yr.
New, Harder Checks
The IIHS has lengthy carried out a frontal-overlap crash take a look at that represents a automobile crashing into one other barely offset, just like the crashes frequent in intersections. The take a look at occurs at about 40 mph and mimics a automobile crashing right into a automobile of comparable measurement and weight.
In 2023, the company added a dummy to the rear seats, representing a 12-year-old little one.
The company charges automobiles as Good, Acceptable, Marginal, or Poor based mostly on the chance of accidents to the driving force and, now, second-row passenger.
The IIHS printed its first spherical of the brand new checks in March, utilizing a gaggle of midsize SUVs. All of the automobiles protected their driver effectively, however the outcomes for rear-seat passengers had been worse. Simply 4 of the 13 SUVs examined earned a Good rating for shielding rear-seat passengers.
Right this moment, the company launched related outcomes for a gaggle of compact automobiles. They did worse.
Not one of the 5 automobiles examined earned a Good rating.
“These outcomes spotlight one of many key causes that we up to date our reasonable overlap entrance crash take a look at,” mentioned IIHS President David Harkey. “In all of the small automobiles we examined, the rear dummy ‘submarined’ underneath the seat belt, inflicting the lap belt to trip up onto the stomach and rising the danger of inside accidents.”
Submarining, the institute explains, causes the seatbelt “to slip from the hip bones onto the stomach, the place it might trigger inside accidents.
Within the three poor-rated automobiles, measurements taken from the rear dummy additionally confirmed a reasonable or excessive danger of head, neck or chest accidents.”
Dangerous Information Can Set off Modifications
The institute says it “launched the up to date reasonable overlap entrance take a look at final yr after analysis confirmed that in newer automobiles, the danger of a deadly damage is now increased for belted occupants within the rear than for these in entrance.”
That’s not as a result of rear-seat security is getting worse. It’s as a result of front-seat security is getting higher. Entrance-seat passengers have airbags in entrance of them and infrequently have “superior seat belts which can be hardly ever accessible in again.”
With its harder requirements, the institute might disgrace automakers into putting in higher seatbelts within the rear of most automobiles.