When shopping for a new vehicle, most consumers look for high safety ratings to help make their choice easier. These ratings — provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) — cover things like driver-side protection, roof strength, and head restraints.

A recent IIHS review of seven small SUVs revealed a gap in safety testing that the institute has pledged to fill by 2018.

IIHS Finds Shortcomings in Front-End Crash Testing

The small overlap front crash test is a recent addition to the IIHS’s extensive list of vehicle crash tests. When the IIHS added the test in 2012, it showed how a vehicle reacts to a collision with a fixed object on approximately 25 percent of the front end. However, this test only looked at the front driver’s side corner during an impact and failed to assess the damage on the passenger side.

During IIHS’s retest of the seven small SUVs, only one, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson, passed with a good rating. The other six vehicles earned acceptable to poor ratings, leading researchers to believe the ratings misrepresent the dangers to passengers.

How do these test results affect vehicle safety?

After the IIHS added the small overlap front crash test to their assessments, 13 vehicle manufacturers have made improvements to the driver side front end safety in 97 of their vehicle models. Since these improvements only focused on driver-side protection, the manufacturers left the passenger sides unchanged and unprotected.

Structural improvements to the front cabin area are critical to preventing serious injury. In the passenger side small overlap front crash tests, the 2015 Toyota RAV4 faired the worst, allowing 13 more inches of intrusion on the passenger side when compared to the driver’s side test. Furthermore, the RAV4’s passenger door opened, raising the risk of passenger ejection.

Putting a Larger Focus on Passenger Safety

There is no guarantee that the addition of these tests will encourage vehicle manufacturers to increase protection on the passenger side front end. Externally, most vehicles are symmetrical, so it is difficult to ascertain the safety without these tests and ratings.

While it is impossible to prevent all accidents, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of a serious or fatal injury to your passengers.

  • Require everyone in your vehicle to wear a seatbelt at all times.
  • Refrain from letting passengers put their legs or feet up on the dashboard.
  • Make sure you place children in the proper restraints for their height and weight.
  • Do not drive while distracted, drowsy, or impaired.
  • Avoid engaging in road rage.

We know that even if you follow all traffic laws to a T, you cannot prevent every accident. If a negligent driver injured you or any of your passengers, you and your passengers have the right to seek damages from that driver.

Contact Montero Law at 954-767-6500 or fill out our contact form to tell us about your accident and learn more about how we can help you protect your right to recovering injury compensation.