Crash Test Data Finds Real-World Success

Feb 14, 2011


Take this article into consideration when considering new fleet vehicles; new research has shown that crash safety ratings are not only important, but accurate.

Drivers of vehicles that perform well in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's side-impact crash test are much less likely to die in a real-world left-side crash than drivers of vehicles that do poorly in the test, a new IIHS analysis found.

After controlling for driver age and gender and vehicle type and weight, a driver of a vehicle rated "good" for driver protection in a side impact is 70 percent less likely to die in a left-side crash compared with a driver of a vehicle rated "poor," IIHS said. A driver of a vehicle rated "acceptable" is 64 percent less likely to die, and a driver of a vehicle rated "marginal" is 49 percent less likely to die.

"This was our first look at how our ratings correlate with actual crash data since we started side tests in 2003, and the numbers confirm that these are meaningful ratings," said David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer. "Vehicles with good side ratings provide occupants with far more protection than vehicles that do poorly in our test."

Studies of frontal crashes have shown similar results. Drivers of vehicles with "good" ratings in the institute's frontal-offset crash test are much less likely to die in frontal crashes.

Side-impact crashes accounted for 27 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in the United States in 2009. Such crashes can be particularly deadly because the sides of vehicles have relatively little space to absorb energy and shield occupants.

To gauge how well crash test scores predict real-world performance, IIHS looked at federal data on side crashes from 2000 to 2009. Only crashes involving IIHS-rated vehicles with standard side airbags to protect both the head and torso were included in the analysis.

By limiting the study to vehicles with side airbags, the researchers were able to bring other factors such as structure into sharper focus. Previous research has shown the importance of side airbags, and no vehicle without head-protecting side airbags has ever earned a "good" rating from IIHS.

[via Automotive Fleet]


Photo courtesy of MontyPython and re-used under the Creative Commons license.