At least one test for safety ratings on automobiles has gotten lots tougher and that’s good news for all U.S. citizens. A new roof-strength requirement aimed at protecting passengers in rollover crashes has cut the number of top-rated vehicles from 94 in 2009 to 27 for the 2010 model year. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety added the roof test to the already-rigorous tests it uses to address increasingly-specific circumstances under which drivers and passengers are injured and killed in collisions.
The Institute, an auto-safety research group, named 19 cars and eight sport-utility vehicles as “top safety picks.” Among them are the Audi A3, Honda Civic, Dodge Journey and Ford Taurus. Auto makers with the most top-rated models include Subaru, a unit of Fuji Heavy Industries, with five vehicles making the cut. Ford Motor Co. and its Volvo unit had six top-rated vehicles, and Volkswagen AG and its Audi unit combined for five vehicles. Four Chrysler LLC vehicles got the top rating. General Motors Corp.’s Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Malibu are also on the list. Among major auto makers with no top picks is Toyota Motor Corp.
To become a top safety pick, a vehicle must have the insurance group’s top rating of “good” in front, side, rollover and rear-impact crash tests and also have electronic stability control, which helps drivers maintain control of their vehicles in situations that might otherwise result in crashes.
According to Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute, his group tests about 50 to 55 vehicles during the model year. Additional cars are tested at the request of car makers. In those tests the car makers pay for the test vehicle. At the beginning of the 2009 model year, 72 vehicles received the group’s top rating. By the end of the year, following additional tests, the list grew to 94. But, as expected, the 2010-model roof-strength requirement reduced the list considerably. In this test, a metal plate is pressed against one corner of the roof. To receive a top rating, the roof must withstand a force equal to four times the vehicle’s weight without crushing the roof five inches inward.
Earlier this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finally decided to make its roof-strength test more stringent. In NHTSA’s new test, a force equal to 2.5 times a vehicle’s weight will be applied separately to the right and left sides of the roof. The rule will limit how much the roof can buckle under the pressure. As you may know, the previous standard was 1.5 times the vehicle’s weight. The federal standard sets a minimum requirement every vehicle must meet. The Insurance Institute tests are designed to show consumers the differences between one vehicle and another under more severe crash conditions. This is the main difference between the two safety groups’ test programs.
Roof strength has long been a point of contention between the Insurance Institute and the auto industry. For many years, car makers have resisted tougher roof-strength standards. The Institute believes that, while seat belts and crash-avoidance technology like electronic stability control are critical in reducing rollover fatalities, a strong roof is better at maintaining the overall integrity of a vehicle’s passenger compartment. The Institute’s research, which looked specifically at rollover crashes, shows that occupants die more often in vehicles with weaker roofs. NHTSA has known this for a long time, and so have the automobile manufacturers. Hopefully, once the president and Congress get through with healthcare reform they will take a closer look at NHTSA and do some reform there.
Source: Wall Street Journal
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.