Car Crash Test Results Improve

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

August 8, 2006

Officials at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said car manufacturers are making strides to protect passengers from front and side impact crashes. It's good news for new car buyers who are looking for safety.

None of the cars tested this time around earned the Institutes's highest rating--the Top Safety Pick Award, but what did impress the judges was how much the cars' overall safety improved over time.

Crash after crash showed improvement in the way manufacturers are now building vehicles. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Ruckersville tested six new and updated cars that at one time got a poor rating.

"Those manufacturers with the poor rated vehicles make changes in an effort to have one more thing to help them compete in a very competitive market," said David Zuby, the President of IIHS.

This time the 2007 Toyota Camry earned a top performer "good" rating when it came to the side and front impact crash test. So did the 2006 RAV4. The luxury Lincoln Zephyr and the Hyundai Tucson were rated "acceptable."

The Dodge Neon was at one time the worst performer. The manufacturer replaced it with a Dodge Caliber and now it has a "good" overall performance.

But, when it comes to rear-end collisions, most of the vehicles tested received disappointing scores.

"The head restraint doesn't do as good a job at protecting the neck from whiplash type injuries in rear crashes as we think it should," said Zuby.

The only model that did well in a rear-end collision was the 2006 Kia Optima. The manufacturer plans to make even more changes to the car to improve its side performance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety will re-test the Optima again later this year.

Most of the auto makers are requesting more time to upgrade their levels of safety before the Institute tests those cars once again. The Institute evaluates the crash tests based on things like damage to the car, injury marked on the dummy, and an analysis of the slow-motion film.


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