When it is time to buy a new car, many people focus on the fun features: heated seats, the latest audio electronics, a cool color. Safety may not always be the most attractive feature we are considering, but it should be a top priority.
In a previous blog post, we discussed the deadliest cars on the road, looking at the different vehicles the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found were more likely to be involved in a fatal crash. Not surprisingly, smaller cars had higher rates of driver fatality.
If we are going to review which cars are the deadliest, it’s worth noting which cars are the safest as well. The IIHS releases their Top Safety Picks every year, looking at several factors to determine a vehicle’s safety rating.
- Crash avoidance: Does the vehicle include technology that can help avoid crashes?
- Crash mitigation: Does the vehicle include technology to help reduce the severity of a crash?
- Crash worthiness: How well does the vehicle protect passengers in a crash?
The Top Safety Pick+ is the highest safety honor the IIHS bestows. To qualify, a vehicle must earn good ratings in the driver-side small overlap front; moderate overlap front, side and roof strength and head restraint tests; and an acceptable or good rating in the passenger-side small overlap front test. It must also have a good headlight rating and an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.
Bigger cars rate safer, but not exclusively
Four of the 15 vehicles listed as a Top Safety Pick+ by the IIHS for the 2018 model year were small cars:
- 2018 Kia Forte
- 2018 Kia Soul
- 2018 Subaru Impreza
- 2018 Subaru WRX
That said, it is worth remembering that the mass of a vehicle generally correlates with safety as well. While these small cars have received high honors from the IIHS, they are being compared to other vehicles in their small car category. Burress Law (and most every crash reconstruction expert) believes that in general, “Mass equals Safety” from a crashworthiness perspective. In other words, a larger car or SUV which earns a top safety pick will be safer and perform better in most crashes than a small car.
For instance, the 2018 Honda Pilot, which was awarded a Top Safety Pick but not a Top Safety Pick+, is more likely to offer superior safety to the 2018 Kia Forte – even though it was “rated” lower. The Pilot may not be as safe as the Kia from a rollover standpoint, but in many other instances it will be a safer option.
If you are looking for a new vehicle, you may want to take into account what vehicle the IIHS deems worthy of safety recognition. The report dates back to 2006, so you can review older models that were awarded IIHS honors if you are in the market for a used vehicle.
However, a vehicle rated well for safety is not a guaranteed protection from being seriously injured in a car wreck. If this occurs, it is important for motor vehicle accident victims to have strong representation. If you or a loved one is injured in a wreck, please call Burress Injury Law at 214-726-0016 as soon as possible.