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Car Safety: Side Impact Crash Test Results

By Insurance.com Posted : 03/07/2007

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Sunday, released results of their Side Impact Crash Test. The results showed that 14 of the 16 cars tested earned a rating of "poor," the lowest of four ratings. Only the Chevrolet Cobalt and Toyota Corolla, when equipped with optional head-protecting side airbags, received ratings of "Acceptable," the second-highest rating on the Institute's four-point scale. See below for a complete list of Side Impact Crash Test results.

The institute's test reproduces a severe auto crash. A barrier designed to simulate the front of a sport-utility vehicle or pick-up truck hits the side of the vehicle at 31 mph. A "poor" rating means a high chance of serious injury in a similar crash.

According to the IIHS, 51 percent of driver deaths in recent model cars during 2000-01 occurred during side impact crashes, up 40 percent since 1980-81. Underscoring the importance of this research, almost 60 percent of the driver deaths in the cars struck on the driver side were hit by SUVs or pickups -" up from about 30 percent during 1980-81

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is an independent, nonprofit organization supported by auto insurance companies. The IIHS conducts scientific research and educational programs designed to reduce deaths, injuries, and property damage resulting from crashes on the nation's highways.

Vehicle safety data is a key factor used by insurance companies to determine auto insurance rates. This data, combined with coverage choices and personal factors such as age, gender and driving record, determines what you pay for your auto insurance . Since different insurance companies weigh these factors differently, auto insurance rates can vary significantly from carrier to carrier for the exact same coverage. To make the best decision on auto insurance, consumers are encouraged to shop around and compare side-by-side rates from several companies.

Vehicle Head protecting side airbags Rating
Chevrolet Cobalt Optional (tested with) Acceptable
Toyota Corolla Optional (tested with) Acceptable
Chevrolet Cobalt Optional (tested without) Poor
Volkswagen New Beetle Standard Poor
Suzuki Aerio Standard Poor
Mitsubishi Lancer Optional (tested without) Poor
Mazda3 Optional (tested without) Poor
Ford Focus Optional (tested without) Poor
Hyundai Elantra Standard Poor
Toyota Corolla  Optional (tested without) Poor 
Kia Spectra Standard Poor
Suzuki Firenza Standard Poor
Nissan Sentra Standard Poor
Saturn Ion Optional (tested with) Poor
Saturn Ion Optional (tested with) Poor
Dodge Neon Optional (tested without) Poor

Source: 1996-2005, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute, http://www.iihs.org/ratings/summary.aspx?class=40


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