In late December, there was a lot of news about the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) list of the safest motor vehicles for 2015. The list was impressive—71 vehicles—even though the Chrysler 200 was the only U.S. car on the Top Safety Pick+ list.
Focusing on real-world situations, IIHS has been encouraging auto makers to improve results in small overlap front crashes to achieve better safety ratings. A “small overlap front collision” is one in which a vehicle hits a stationary object or another vehicle, but not head on. A vehicle may hit a utility pole, for example, with the headlight taking the brunt of the impact, or two vehicles might have a frontal crash but only the left front of each car collides. The body of the car may crumple, depending on the speed at which the car was traveling and the angle of impact. In these cases, it’s not unusual to find parts of the vehicle pushed into the passenger compartment.
Since the small overlap test program began in 2012, IIHS researchers identified three main strategies for improving occupant protection in small overlap front crash tests:
- Strengthen the occupant compartment
- Add new structures to engage the barrier
- Create an additional load path for crash forces