Feds include crash-prevention tech in safety testing
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is now judging crash-prevention technology in new vehicles, with a handful of Subarus, Volvos, Cadillacs and Mercedes-Benzes scoring top spots in the first testing round.
In its inaugural evaluations, the IIHS looked at 74 "mid-sized luxury" cars and SUVs (2013 and 2014 models) equipped with forward collision warning and automatic braking systems (ABS) as standard or optional features. The institute rated the vehicles as Basic, Advanced or Superior based on how well they slowed and avoided a crash while moving at 12 and 25 mph.
Vehicles received a Basic rating if they have a forward collision warning system that meets bottom-line requirements set by the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA); the technology doesn't brake on its own but does emit a warning. For an Advanced rating, the car must brake automatically and avoid a crash or reduce speeds by at least 5 mph in at least one of the IIHS' two tests. Superior vehicles have automatic braking and can avoid a crash or cut speeds significantly in both tests.
Seven vehicles gained the Superior tag, including:
- Cadillac ATS
- Cadillac SRX
- Mercedes-Benz C-Class
- Subaru Legacy
- Subaru Outback
- Volvo S60
- Volvo XC60
Six grabbed the Advanced rating:
- 2014 Acura MDX
- Audi A4
- Audi Q5
- 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee
- Lexus ES
- 2014 Mazda 6
Several other models received the Basic rating: Acura ZDX, BMW 3 Series and X3, Chevrolet Equinox and Malibu, 2014 Dodge Durango, Ford Edge, Explorer, Flex and Fusion, GMC Terrain, Honda Accord and Crosstour, Infiniti EX, FX, JX, Q50, QX50, QX60 and QX70, Jeep Cherokee, Lincoln MKT, MKX and MKZ, and Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class and M-Class.
Car safety and insurance rates
Loretta Worters, vice president of communications for the Insurance Information Institute (III), says consumers should pay attention to ratings compiled by the IIHS because insurers take the overall safety of a car into consideration when underwriting policies, so safety ratings could impact your car insurance rates.
"There are many factors that go into auto rates, including the cost to repair a car, its overall safety record and the likelihood of theft," she says. "How much damage a car receives in an accident has an impact on how badly injured a person can be as well. With rising medical costs, in connection with personal injury protection coverage, it can have a huge bearing" on the cost of a policy.
Des Toups is a writer, editor and expert on insurance, cars and personal finance. He has written extensively about all three for national publications such as MSN and major newspapers such as the Seattle Times. He has been quoted about insurance issues in The New York Times, USA Today and Kiplinger's. Follow him on Twitter @destoups.