FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-10-19
Recently, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) put 11 luxury vehicles through a new test called the small overlap test. The results were rather disturbing: Only two vehicles earned a “Good” rating and several rated “Poor”, including at least one current IIHS “Top Pick” for safety.
The IIHS Luxury Car Safety Tests
The small overlap test evaluates a vehicle’s ability to withstand an impact to the driver’s side front corner. This is the type of motor vehicle accident can occur, for example, when a vehicle crashes into a telephone pole or tree. In small overlap crashes, the pole or tree makes contact with the vehicle at a point where the steel frame and airbags do not absorb the impact energy, leaving occupants vulnerable to injury.
The small overlap crash tests the IIHS conducted evaluated 11 new luxury car models from manufacturers that often are top safety choices, such as Mercedes-Benz, Acura, Volvo and Infiniti. Only two models—the Volvo S60 and Acura TL—earned “Good” ratings, the highest the IIHS awards. The Infiniti G was rated “Acceptable” and the Volkswagen CC and Lincoln MKZ earned “Marginal” ratings.
The remaining four vehicles tested earned “Poor” ratings, meaning that they would not effectively protect car occupants in the event of a small overlap crash and serious injury could result to the occupants. These vehicles included the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the Lexus IS 250 and 350, the Lexus ES 350 and the Audi A4.
The IIHS plans to perform small overlap testing on midsize vehicles soon, providing more safety information for consumers. These tests highlight the importance of considering safety ratings when purchasing a new vehicle.
Evaluating Safety Ratings and Features an Important Part of Car Shopping
Over two-thirds of consumers rate safety as their top consideration when shopping for a new vehicle. Fortunately, the IIHS and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration both conduct safety testing on all new vehicles. Often, manufacturers use these safety ratings to promote their vehicles.
With the addition of the small overlap crash test, some consumers may find determining whether or not a car is safe more complicated. For example, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a current IIHS “Top Pick”, meaning that it has earned a “Good” rating on all four current tests. With the addition of the small overlap test in the Top Pick determinations, the C-Class may lose its Top Pick status. This may place doubt in consumers’ minds about the safety of the C-Class.
Safety ratings are not the only safety consideration consumers should look for when car shopping, however. Antilock Braking Systems (ABS), side and front airbags and adjustable safety belts all help keep car occupants safe. Consumers shopping for used cars should pay special attention to the safety features of each model they are considering, since safety features like ABS or electronic stability control may not be available on older models.
The recent IIHS crash test results should help consumers make informed decisions when they go car shopping in the near future. Hopefully, the test results will encourage automakers to engineer safer vehicles in the future. Until then, people will continue to be exposed to the possibility of injury or death due to small overlap crashes.
If you or a loved one are injured in such car crash, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses.