Crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has helped guide consumers in California and throughout the country toward safer vehicles for years. The institute chose to raise many of its crash testing standards this year for the purpose of motivating automakers to improve crash avoidance features. Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick Plus awards required high scores on vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention systems on 2020 vehicles.
Pedestrian accidents on the rise
Although the institute only adopted pedestrian safety assessments a year earlier, it made them a vital part of the 2020 safety awards due to escalating traffic threats to pedestrians. Between 2009 and 2018, pedestrian deaths jumped by 53%.
Pushing for better passenger safety
Despite crash safety improvements over the years, researchers have emphasized how automakers could improve protections for passengers. The IIHS added stricter criteria to its tests of passenger-side small overlap accidents. This test looks at how well a vehicle shields passengers from harm when the front corner of a vehicle strikes a tree, vehicle or utility pole.
Researchers identified passenger-side small overlap accidents as a remaining weak area in many vehicle models. An IIHS spokesperson said that automakers had already achieved higher safety ratings on tests of moderate overlap, side impacts, roof strength and head restraints, but small overlap crashes on both the driver and passenger sides persisted as a concern. For this reason, the institute only gave Top Safety Pick awards to 2020 models that had a good score on the small overlap crash test.
Legal issues after a crash
Safety features cannot prevent all injuries. In the aftermath of a car crash, serious or even disabling injuries could limit your ability to speak with an insurance adjuster or prepare a personal injury lawsuit. Personal injury attorneys provide services meant to aid people coping with catastrophic injuries, mounting medical bills and loss of lifetime income. You may want legal guidance when the financial stakes are so high. An attorney may help sort through complex issues like assignment of liability and identification of insurance coverage.