Although many of us cringe at the number of people staring at the cellphones or other devices, instead of socially interacting, technology does have its good points. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently released their list of 2017 vehicles they deem the safest because they afford the best crash protection…and it’s all due to technological advances.
The IIHS gave their safety award to 82 cars, but they gave their highest award, “Top Safety Pick+” to 38 models. The other 44 received their basic “Top Safety Pick” award. To receive either award, models must earn good ratings in the small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests, as well as an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention with standard or optional autobrake. Headlights are factored in only for the top award.
Criteria for choosing safest cars on the road for 2017
The IIHS used several areas to qualify for their Top Safety Pick+ awards.
- Crashworthiness as described above.
- Crash Prevention: Automatic Braking Technology: Automakers have voluntarily committed to making automatic braking a standard feature on all U.S. models by 2022. The IIHS says its research shows that these systems reduce rear-end crashes, the kind most common in commuter crashes, by 50%.
- Headlight Evaluation: IIHS’s inclusion of headlight evaluations is noteworthy. This is the first time the Institute included headlight ratings after noting that there is a vast variation in the type and amount of illumination headlights provide. They decided to include it because 50% of fatal car crashes occur during the hours of darkness, dusk and dawn.
Not only are there different degrees of illumination included in government approved standards, but there are different kinds of lights used, some better than others. Because modern lighting types, such as high-intensity discharge (HID), LED lamps, and curve-adaptive systems, which swivel in the direction of steering are not a guarantee of good performance, IIHS toughened the criteria. As a result, only seven vehicles of the 38 top+ cars met the new headlight requirements.
According to the IIHS press release regarding headlights, they state that in their evaluations, “… engineers measure how far light is projected from a vehicle’s low beams and high beams as the vehicle travels straight and on curves. Glare from low beams from oncoming drivers also is measured. Vehicles equipped with high-beam assist, which automatically switches between high beams and low beams depending on the presence of other vehicles, can get extra credit.”
“The field of contenders is smaller this year because so few vehicles have headlights that do their job well, but it’s not as small as we expected when we decided to raise the bar for the awards,” Adrian Lund, the Institute’s president, said in a statement. “Manufacturers are focusing on improving this basic safety equipment, and we’re confident that the winners’ list will grow as the year progresses.”
And the winners are…
The seven cars that won the 38 Top Safety Pick+ award headlight evaluation are the Chevrolet Bolt small car, Honda Ridgeline pickup, Hyundai Elantra small car, Hyundai Santa Fe midsize SUV, Subaru Legacy midsize car, Toyota Prius v Midsize car and Volvo XC60 midsize luxury SUV.
Toyota/Lexus garnered nine of the highest 2017 safety accolades. For a complete list of all winners, click here.
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