The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a non-profit, independent, educational, and scientific organization aiming to decrease accident injuries and fatalities. The IIHS examines and tests motor vehicles with significant sales volumes or updated with new safety features.
The IIHS rates motor vehicles as Poor, Marginal, Acceptable, and Good. When a motor vehicle scores a “Good” rating in moderate overlap front, side, driver’s side small overlap front, roof strength, and head resistant collision examinations receive the IIHS’ coveted Top Safety Pick+. The Top Safety Pick+ is the IIHS’ highest rating. The motor vehicle must also earn a “Good” or “Acceptable” rating for the vehicle’s passenger-side small overlap test and its headlight quality. If a motor vehicle only receives an “Acceptable” rating for its headlights but scored “Good” in all other categories, receive the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick Award.
According to an IIHS test facility spokesperson, those people shopping for a vehicle should only consider vehicles with a four or more star rating from the NHTSA plus a “Top Safety Pick” or “Good” rating from the IIHS.
The IIHS carries out the following tests to determine a motor vehicle’s rating:
Passenger-side small overlap front test: This test involves the test vehicle automatically crashed into a rigid 5-foot wall at 40 MPH. In the motor vehicle, two test dummies of average-sized man-size are used in the test. The motor vehicle is sent into the wall, striking the wall with only 25 percent of the motor vehicle’s front width on the passenger’s side of the motor vehicle.
Driver’s-side small overlap front test: This crash test is similar to the passenger-side small overlap front test, but the wall strikes the driver’s side of the motor vehicle. The accident simulates a vehicle hitting a phone pole, tree, or another static object. A male test dummy of an average man’s size and weight is placed in the driver’s seat.
Moderate overlap front test: In this crash test, a motor vehicle is driven into the concrete barrier at a speed of 40 mph. The barrier is struck with 40 percent of the vehicle’s front width on the driver’s side of the vehicle. This crash test simulates a head-on collision between two motor vehicles of approximate weight. In this test, an average-sized male crash dummy is placed in the driver’s seat of the motor vehicle.
Roof strength test: The IIHS uses a large metal compactor to crush the motor vehicle’s roof by five inches. The machine measures the motor vehicle’s roof strength-to-weight ratio. This test determines the strength of the roof and helps to determine rollover crashworthiness.
Side impact test: A 3,300-pound test barrier strikes the test motor vehicle’s driver’s side at 31 mph. In this test, a small adult female crash dummy is placed in the driver’s seat. A small child crash dummy, resembling the size and weight of a 12-year-old, is placed in the back seat located behind the driver.
Head restraints test: This crash test simulates a collision from the rear. The speed of the rear-end collision is 20 MPH. This crash test uses highly advanced crash dummies that measure the forces generated by the impact and the forces’ effect on the driver’s spine and neck.
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