cars driving on the road

When it comes to safeguarding the lives of motorists everywhere, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) was established to be the most vocal check to car manufacturers and policymakers that exists. An independent and nonprofit organization, the IIHS runs thorough tests on virtually every make and model of vehicle from each manufacturer and in every year of release. As such, they have created the internet’s largest database on the crashworthiness﹘defined by the IIHS as “how well a vehicle protects its occupants in a crash”﹘and crash avoidance or mitigation of each car, truck, or semi. 

This painstaking and comprehensive database of vehicle ratings makes the IIHS one of the foremost authorities on the safeness of a vehicle. Since their library of data updates so often, they take the opportunity to release a yearly report detailing the safest vehicles across a number of criteria, awarding the vehicles that receive the highest marks with the honorific “Top Safety Picks.” These awards have been a yearly tradition in the automotive industry since 2006 and have since been accompanied by an even more stringent line of titles from the IIHS called “Top Safety Pick+.” 

The Criteria

For those looking to purchase a new car, or who are looking for an auto repair shop to restore a used car to its factory standards, the list of Top Safety Picks represents a good baseline from which to judge a vehicle. The vehicles are measured against the following criteria:

  • Driver’s Side Small Overlap Front: This test simulates a frontal crash covering 25% of the width of the vehicle﹘essentially the size of a light pole or tree. 
  • Passenger Side Small Overlap Front: Similar to the driver’s side test, but also focusing on the position of crash test dummies after the impact.
  • Moderate Overlap Front: This test causes a head-on collision covering 40% of the width of the car, simulating two cars hitting one another. The IIHS will monitor the car’s crumple zones and the effectiveness of the passenger safety cage. 
  • Side Impact: Testing the force of a large moving object (usually an SUV-sized barrier) as it collides with the side of the car, this test monitors the state of female and child test dummies post-accident. Side airbags are also tested.
  • Roof Strength: While rollover tests are performed to ensure a car doesn’t end up on the roof, a separate roof test is carried out to determine if the roof will crush the car’s occupants if the vehicle goes turtle.
  • Head Restraint Tests: This test is to determine the severity of whiplash injuries in specific vehicles. A rear-end collision is performed and the neck of the dummy is observed.
  • Front Crash Prevention Systems: There are so many new and existing safety features being installed in modern cars, all of which purport to maximize the chance of survival and minimize the chance of actually crashing. These tests put those claims to the test through a series of intense tests designed to engage those safety features.
  • Headlight Rating: A test to evaluate the performance of the car’s headlights, including how much glare is created in the eyes of oncoming drivers. 

Master Muffler Recommends Top Safety Picks

The best car repair is the one that comes from a routine check-up and not a catastrophic accident. That way no one has been hurt and most issues with the car can be caught before they become a dangerous problem. Trusting in the IIHS’s Top Safety Picks and Top Safety Picks+ means that there is a higher statistical chance that your auto repair will be from the former reason and not the latter.

To learn more about how to increase your car’s safety rating, be sure to ask a team member at your next Master Muffler tune-up. We are dedicated to keeping you and all of Utah’s roads safe.


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