New Tests for Safer Cars
In 2013, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has introduced a new test added to the existing four safety test, a small overlap test. Vehicles that would excel in these tests including the newly added one will earn points for the Top Safety Pick+ status. This asks for higher standards in the Top vehicle Safety designation. Automakers, because of the added test, make changes in design to meet the new requirements, which would help in reducing head, chest, leg, and foot injuries.
This new small overlap frontal test was considered because of the 2009 IIHS study, which shows that small overlap crashes are the main reasons of about one fourth of the frontal crashes that leads to fatal injury to front seat occupants with seat belts.
The existing four safety test includes: side impact, moderate overlap frontal, roof strength, and a rear impact test in assessing neck-injury protection. The new test, small overlap frontal test, gives a view of crashes in the frontal area. Crashing with an object, a tree or a pole for instance, is the accident to be replicated in the test.
In comparison with the moderate overlap frontal test, the small overlap frontal strikes 5-foot-tall rigid barrier at 40 mph while the moderate overlap frontal test, the driver’s side is stroked by a barrier 40 percent of the total width of the vehicle.
According to Adrian Lund, IIHS President, there are more than 10,000 frontal crash accidents each year though most of the new cars perform well in their test, maybe it is because the source of these fatalities are small overlap crashes. They spent years of research and analyzing frontal crashes to attain the new small overlap test, learning how to redesign cars to lessen serious injuries and make them safer.
Car’s outer edges are the main parts affected in a small overlap crash, which is not well protected by modern car’s safety cages which leads to serious leg and foot injuries together with some head and chest injuries because seat belts and airbags are taxed in such accidents.
Side air bags are not like front air bags that deploy during a small overlap crash. These air bags only inflate in true side crashes, the “T-bone” crash for instance; they do not provide much protection because of their late inflation and they do not extend enough.
Compared from 10 years ago, we can say that cars today are safer than ever and we have been away from serious accidents today. With all these, the IIHS still believe that small overlap crashes is a significant source of accidents that can lead to serious injuries and fatalities and the new small overlap test can help make future vehicles safer, Lund said.
Automakers have been making changes in the vehicle’s design to meet the Institute requirement for the new overlap test including: extending the car’s crash structure further into the vehicle’s corner and making the occupant compartments more firm to resist intrusion. Positive feedback has been gathered from these automakers as they said that they will meet the new challenge for driving safety. Some manufacturer’s engineers have been adjusting side airbags algorithms for safer overlap crashes.
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