One of the best ways to minimize injury from a car accident is to make sure that the vehicle you’re driving is as safe as possible from the outset. Utilizing car safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an independent, nonprofit ratings organization, can make a difference.
Every year, the IIHS tests new entries into the auto market for two essential safety factors, crashworthiness and crash avoidance/mitigation, based on six tests that simulate the most common types of car accidents. Tests are primarily evaluated by the use of sensor-equipped crash test dummies, assessment of survival space within the cab of the vehicle, and measured impact and effectiveness of airbags, seatbelts and other fixtures (such as the seats and infant car seat latches) in the car on the dummies.
Sensors are placed throughout a crash test dummy’s body, including in the head, neck, abdomen and limbs that measure the impact, especially to vital organs, of a vehicle crash on the human body. Grease paint monitors impact to hard surfaces inside the vehicle. These indicators allow trained scientists to evaluate how the impact on the dummy would affect a real-life human being in a similar type of car accident. Selecting a vehicle with minimal damage to crash test dummies (one with a Good rating, according to the IIHS), can help minimize car crash injuries.
Survival space is the area inside the car that remains largely unharmed by the crash. It is measured by how well the structural integrity of the car is maintained under roof crush simulation. The more secure space in the car that remains throughout the duration of the test, the more survival space is available to those inside the vehicle.
Airbags and seat belts are key to the safety of any vehicle. Both devices work to constrain the motion of the passenger’s body during sudden impact. By slowing down a body in motion and providing a softer impact, millions of lives are saved every year. The efficacy of these devices is measured in each vehicle tested by the IIHS through standard simulations with crash test dummies. The high quality the airbags, seatbelts and other fixtures within the car, the better your chances are of avoiding injury in a crash.
The IIHS rates all vehicles on a scale of four ratings: Poor, Marginal, Acceptable and Good as well as a second scale that ranges from Basic to Advanced and Superior. When any given area of the safety test receives a lower rating, it significantly degrades the safety of that vehicle and increases your risk of experiencing a car crash injury. This is why it is so critically important to select a car that has a Good overall rating.
Additionally, the IIHS hand-picks their top-rated vehicles each year and provides specs on how each performed in their testing facilities. You can view your car’s rating directly from their website.
Although IIHS safety testing is a standard in the industry, it is important to recognize that the tests have application limitations. For one, the dummies used do not represent the heights and weights of the whole population of passengers. Testing conclusions may not necessarily be extrapolated to people who vary from the test dummy sizes.
The tests are further limited by the crash conditions used in IIHS testing. For example the speeds used in the crash tests range from 10 – 40 mph. The angles of impact are controlled and predetermined. Many real-world collisions involve higher speed impacts and much different angles of impact.
Despite the limitations of the testing, the IIHS tests give consumers very useful information about vehicle safety.
If you have been injured in a car accident and need advice about your legal options, contact the car crash injury attorneys at Lowe Eklund Wakefield for a free consultation. We may be able to help.