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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is an independent, nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses from crashes on the nation’s roads. Recently, the IIHS has begun giving vehicles a new test, and it is one that has been giving many manufacturers a bit of a headache. The Insurance Institute said it plans to change it criteria for the top safety picks next year to incorporate their new test. They mentioned that they developed this new test after years of analyzing real-world frontal crashes, which happen to kill more than 10,000 people annually in the U.S.

This new test is designed to replicate what occurs when a vehicle collides with another vehicle or fixed object. A vehicles front corners, 25% of the front on each side, is crashed into a five foot tall barrier while driving at a 40 mile per hour speed. So far, only luxury vehicles have been tested, eleven in total, and sadly, they mostly all did terrible.

Acceptable Rating

  • Acura TL
  • Volvo S60
  • Infiniti G

Marginal Rating

  • Acura TSX
  • BMW 3 Series
  • Lincoln MKZ
  • Volkwagen CC

Poor Rating

  • Mercedes C-Class
  • Lexus IS 250
  • Audi A4
  • Lexus ES 350

Marginal and poor ratings indicate that occupants in these cars would not be protected very well in a real-world accident. Each and everyone of the cars tested were from the 2012 model year. There were a number of issues with these cars, ranging from inadequate airbag deployment time to seat belts that spooled out too much after the crash.

Mercedes quickly came out saying that it didn’t agree with the rankings they have been given. They made note that their C-class vehicle is listed as one of the institutes top performing safety vehicles. They commented that, ” As a leader in automotive safety, we have full confidence in the protection that the C-Class affords its occupants, and less confidence in any test that doesn’t reflect that.” This is an odd statement, and Mercedes complains that the test itself mimics an unusually severe and uncommon scenario. However, the institute does not believe that what the test replicates is either unusually severe or uncommon.

Toyota, on the other hand, fully accepts the institutes results. They hail the institute for raising the bar once again, forcing manufacturers to keep up. They also mentioned that they will rise to the challenge when designing vehicles in the future. Toyota also has reason to hail the institute, as they have more safety picks based on their standards than any other manufacturer, totaling 17 vehicles.

So what does this mean for auto manufacturers? While some hail the institute for their continued push toward creating safer vehicles, others believe it be a hassle and unrealistic means to rate vehicles by. But the IIHS is an independent and scientific organization, whose main goal and purpose is to test vehicles safety. That’s it, they are not making money on the side, nor taking bribes to falsely raise a vehicles rating. So when companies such as Mercedes comes out saying that they have less confidence in any test that does not reflect how safe they believe their vehicles to be, it’s an entirely asinine statement to make. They’ve literally said that unless tests show how safe their vehicles are, those tests must be wrong. It’s almost amazing that they allowed those words to be spoken.

Nonetheless, car manufacturers now have a new standard to live up to, and when it comes to safety and human life, no standard is too high. For such supposedly safe vehicles to fail any sort of reasonable test, simply means that they weren’t as safe as they were believed to be. This means that greater care needs to be taken in the designing and testing phase. Any problem the IIHS can find, should already be known, addressed, and corrected prior to releasing the vehicle.

But so long as independent tests are done to check the safety of vehicles, the overall safety for every vehicle will be improved. So the IIHS should take every criticism they are given precisely on the chin, as even if they create a test that is too difficult to pass, that’s all the better. The more difficult, the better the safety of a vehicle is known, especially if they pass a difficult test.

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