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IIHS Archives - The Cooper Firm - The Cooper Firm

How automakers plan to eliminate rear-end collisions

How automakers plan to eliminate rear-end collisions

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Auto Recall Attorney - The Cooper Firm

How automakers plan to eliminate rear-end collisions

Rear-end collisions account for a third of all car crashes. After years of trying to figure out how to prevent these accidents, automakers have started implementing technology to help reduce the amount of rear-end collisions.

Accidents cost Americans billions of dollars every year and lead to injuries and in some cases deaths. Safety technology could change that dramatically, and automakers and regulators feel strongly that it will. Ten automakers, federal safety regulators and an insurance industry trade group announced that automatic emergency braking will become a standard feature on all new car models sold in the United States. Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo were all automakers who agreed to work with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on developing a timeline to install the feature in all upcoming and future models.

Automatic emergency braking uses a combination of sensors and cameras or lasers to detect a potential crash and then warns the driver. In some cases, the vehicle will even brake for the driver if the driver does not take action. There are several newer vehicles that already offer this feature and those similar such as automated cruise control, lane departure warnings and high beams that will automatically adjust if an oncoming vehicle is coming. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety feels that automated braking systems can potentially reduce insurance injury claims by as much as 35%.

Having technologies that react quickly will help eliminate driver error and assist with drivers that may respond slower than normal. NHTSA found that many drivers in rear-end collisions didn’t apply the brakes at all or did not apply the brakes fully, both of which can be corrected by this new technology. Details regarding the roll-out have not been decided yet, and since it is not a federal mandate, companies are taking time to establish the performance criteria. Most of the technologies that are already on these newer models come with a price tag, so hopefully with the new roll-out, automakers will not add a price to safety. It has also not been decided if insurance premiums will be lower for vehicles that have these technologies or not.

While these products are going to help decrease the amount in injuries and deaths on the road, there is a potential that they could come with glitches and defects just as safety technologies before it such as airbags and seat belts. It is our hope that manufacturers and automakers alike will take the time to really ensure that these products are safe and that drivers understand them before they hit the market.

Study shows rear camera benefits

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Vehicle Safety Technology Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Study shows rear camera benefits  

A recent study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), revealed just how beneficial rear cameras can be in vehicles. The study also showed that rear cameras are more beneficial than parking sensors when it comes to back over crashes with pedestrians. Nearly 300 people are killed and 18,000 and injured every year by drivers backing into them. The accidents usually occur in driveways and parking lots. Young children and elderly are typically the most likely to be killed in an accident of this nature.

“Right now cameras appear to be the most promising technology for addressing this particular tragic type of crash, which frequently claims the lives of young children in the driveways of their own homes,” David Zuby, IIHS’s vice president and chief research officer shared. Due to the fact that vehicles have large blind zones, many drivers cannot see objects behind the rear bumper, especially if the object is shorter than the back mirror.

The study included 21 vehicles, all 2010-2013 models. With no added technology such as cameras or sensors, large SUVs did the worst with rear visibility. Smaller cars without added technology did slightly better than SUVs. Vehicles with backup cameras reduced the blind zone by about 90 percent on average. Vehicles with both sensors and cameras did not fare as well, and vehicles with just sensors had a small added benefit. It appeared as though vehicles which had both technologies, that the drivers had more confidence and did not use the camera as much. If the sensor had a larger range or an earlier warning, it may have provided more benefit.

The research stems from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s interest on whether to require rear cameras on all passenger vehicles.  In 2008, Congress requested the agency expand the required field of view on the back of vehicles. NHTSA feels that rear cameras are the only technology that could meet the mandate. Although they have not required the cameras on vehicles yet, they are on the list of recommended features in vehicles safety ratings.

For more information on the study you can visit IIHS’s site.

Source: IIHS

Three minivans score poorly on crash test

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Three minivans score poorly on crash test

Minivans are a vehicle typically seen as safe for the whole family, but a recent crash test revealed that three minivans scored poorly for a crash test.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety performed a small overlap front crash test on four minivans. Out of the four vans, three van tests showed some of the worst possible outcomes for the specific type of crash. The Nissan Quest, The Chrysler Town & Country and the Dodge Caravan all earned poor ratings. The 2015 Toyota Sienna was the only van who received an acceptable rating. Last year, the Honda Odyssey received a good rating along with a Top Safety Pick + award.

The small overlap test is a difficult test for most vehicles. The test has only been around since 2012. It replicates a crash where the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or object. Because the impact does not pass through the vehicles main energy absorbing structure, it can cause serious damage and injuries. Minivans are built wider than most cars, which makes the test especially difficult for them.

Even though the Sienna improved the structure of its van, it still only received an acceptable rating. The Kia Sedona is the only minivan that was not tested. Kia is planning on modifying the vehicle and it will be tested soon after. For more information and ratings on how the minivans tested, you can visit IIHS’s website.

We hope that these minivan auto makers will re-asses these vehicles after receiving the results. Vans are usually filled with large families, and these families need to be able to trust that their vehicle is going to protect them properly.

Source: IIHS

Newer Improved Vehicles Bring Down Death Rates

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Newer Improved Vehicles Bring Down Death Rates

Having a new vehicle may be more appealing to consumers than ever before, due to a new study. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the chances of dying in a late-model vehicle have decreased by more than one third. In 2011 models, nine vehicles had zero-death rates. Unfortunately, there are still vehicles which have not developed as safely as others. Three 2011 vehicles have death rates exceeding 100 per million registered vehicles a year.

Vehicles have dramatically evolved from 1985 to 2012. Structural design and safety technology have played a large role in declining risk. IIHS shared that there were 7,700 fewer deaths in 2012 alone then there would have been if vehicles would have remained the same since 1985.

Eight years ago, there were no models with driver death rates of zero, now there are nine. Although automakers are still very far away from zero traffic deaths total, the improvements being made will dramatically change vehicle safety. Consumers are looking closer at safety then every before due to the “year of recalls” which spurred last year as a result of General Motors hiding an ignition switch defect which led to over 90 deaths and hundreds of injuries. People want to feel safe in their vehicles, not afraid of if their vehicle could potentially kill them.

Another interesting change over the past few years has been safety updates in SUVs. Out of the nine zero death vehicles, two thirds are SUVs. Nearly a decade ago, SUVs had the highest death rates due to the fact they rolled over easily. With systems like electronic stability control and better developed models, the rollover rate is less than a quarter of what it used to be in the 80’s. Smaller vehicles however, have the highest death rate among 2011 models. The Kia Rio minicar had 149 driver deaths per million vehicles registered.  This is due to the fact that smaller cars cannot protect themselves as well against larger vehicles.

The top nine zero fatality vehicles included the Audi A4 4WD, Honda Odyssey, Kia Sorento 2WD, Lexus RX 350 4WD, Mercedes-Benz GL Class 4WD, Subaru Legacy 4WD, Toyota Highlander hybrid 4WD, Toyota Sequoia 4WD, and the Vovo XC90 4WD. The Kia Rio tops the list of highest driver fatalities per million registered vehicles at 149 deaths with the Nissan Versa sedan, Hyundai Accent and the Chevy Aveo all topping 99 deaths or more. You can view the full list here.

There are other factors beyond change in vehicle technology and structure design that could drop the rate of driver deaths even more. Some of these factors include lower speed limits, better enforcement of seat belt laws, and cracking down on distracted driving. We hope to see an even larger decline in death rates over the next few years as automakers, safety enforcement and the federal safety agency work together to keep the road safe.

Source: IIHS

The Safest Vehicles of 2015

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Cobb Personal Injury Attorney - The Cooper Firm

The Safest Vehicles of 2015

With the many dangerous product defects that were exposed on automobiles this year, safety has moved to the top of the priority list for many new car shoppers. The majority of shoppers now weed out vehicles if they do not have superior safety ratings list. With over 71 vehicles selected on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Picks, it can be challenging to know which vehicles to filter out. The Car Connection recently compiled a list of the top ten vehicles who stand out in safety features and ratings. Not only did they compare the Top Safety Picks from IIHS, but they also looked at vehicles that had earned five-star ratings from the federal government.

Vehicles that have forward collision warning systems are proven to help drivers avoid crashes and reduce the severity of accidents.  The IIHS included a test of this feature along with the Institute’s ‘Advanced’ or ‘Superior’ level of front crash protection to award vehicles with its best ‘Top Safety Pick +’ (TSP+) rating.

Here are the top safest cars for 2015 according to The Car Connection:

  1. 2015 Subaru Legacy
  2. 2015 Volvo S60
  3. 2015 Hyundai Genesis
  4. 2015 Mazda 3
  5. 2015 Mercedes-Benz M- Class
  6. 2915 Subaru Outback
  7. 2015 Chrysler 200
  8. 2015 Mazda CX-5

Please note: There are many other vehicles with excellent safety features that could cut the chances of an accident even more. More than choosing a vehicle from a “top” list, you should always pick a vehicle that you are comfortable driving in. Make sure you are able to see well in it and that the safety features are easy for you to use. This is not a comprehensive list of the safest models due to some vehicles not having crash-test ratings yet.

Source: The Car Connection

IIHS Reveals Small Cars Have Tough Time Passing Safety Tests

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IIHS Reveals Small Cars Have Tough Time Passing Safety Tests

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported small cars had a difficult time passing the recent crash safety tests. The safety group tested 12 small cars and the results showed that half of those vehicles did not receive the Top Safety Pick Award. The best performers out of the vehicles were the Chevrolet Volt who received the only Top Safety Pick+ Award and the Mini Cooper Countryman who received the Top Safety Pick Award and was the only vehicle rated “good” for the small overlap crash test. The Mazda 5, Nissan Juke and the Nissan Leaf scored the lowest across all test including the small overlap test with a “poor” rating for the majority of the tests.

The small overlap crash test was introduced in 2012. It replicates when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or object such as a pole. It is more difficult than either of the head on crashes by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration and the IIHS moderate overlap test.

In order for a vehicle to receive the top rating of “good” they must have good overall crash protection. Joe Nolan, the Institute’s senior vice president for vehicle research shared that, “collapse of the occupant compartment is the downfall for four small cars in this group, including the Fiat 500L, Mazda 5, Nissan Juke, and Nissan Leaf. A sturdy compartment allows the restraint systems to do their job, absorbing energy and controlling occupant motion.”

To see the full list of the small cars, 2014 models, visit http://www.iihs.org/iihs/sr/statusreport/article/49/6/1.

Source: IIHS

Luxury vehicles score low on new safety test

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Luxury vehicle safety

Although the new luxury model has all the bells and whistles and has a reputation for being the best on the market, it may not be the safest. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported that in 2012 only 3 out of 11 midsize luxury cars scored a “good” rating on a new crash test that stimulated a smaller frontal collision. Some of the cars that were tested included the Infiniti G37, BMW 3 Series, and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of deaths in the United States and over 2.2 million adult drivers were in the emergency room for a car accident in 2009. Although many people purchase cars with their highest concern being safety, it can often be very difficult to evaluate safety.

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), IIHS, and Consumer Reports all conduct safety testing and publish their results for the public. For the most part, luxury vehicles all have “good” ratings for general crash-test. In 2011, out of the 15 midsize luxury vehicles, 13 earned a good rating for frontal, side impact, and rear crashes. A lower percentage of the non-luxury vehicles passed with a “good” rating.

In 2012, a new test was created for vehicles to go through. The test, called “narrow offsets,” is a frontal crash where the vehicle strikes a vertical thin object similar to a pole or tree at a rate of 40 miles-per-hour. The test is severe, but necessary considering that it causes a large percent of motor vehicle fatalities. For luxury cars, the test was difficult. Out of 11 luxury models only the Volvo S60 and the Acura TL scored a “good” and the Infinity G scored “acceptable.” The other models ended up with a “poor” or “marginal” rating. The majority of the non-luxury vehicles scored “acceptable” for the same crash test, which surpassed the scores of the luxury vehicles.

Because of the implementation of the new crash, manufacturers and designers will have to pay better attention to the challenges it faces. In a few years, almost all models will have made upgrades to improve on this test.

The IIHS gives out less Top Safety Ratings this year based on new tougher standards

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Auto Recall Attorney - The Cooper Firm

The IIHS gives out less Top Safety Ratings this year based on new tougher standards

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has just given 39 vehicles top safety ratings for 2014, which is less than half of the 130 they gave out last year. The IIHS required tougher standards this year, which included top crash test scores and good front crash prevention system (which included warning systems or automatic braking). If vehicles meet the front crash protection criteria they are now ranked as “Top Safety Pick +” instead of just “Top Safety Pick.”

Honda was the manufacturer to receive the most winners with eight vehicles being ranked. The Honda Civic Hybrid, Honda Accord, Acura RLX, and Acura MDX where all given the highest ranking and the Honda Civic two-door and the Acura TL were both ranked as a top safety pick.

The Infinity Q50, the Mazda 3, Toyota Highlander, and the Chevrolet Spark mini car were all new to the list this year.

The IIHS’s list has been a standard for automakers to improve their cars’ safety. This year proves that automakers have a lot to improve regarding front-end protection on their vehicles and the standard equipment of their vehicles.

If you are looking to purchase a new vehicle, be sure to keep the IIHS safety rating test in mind. Do your own research instead of relying on the knowledge of salesmen and auto dealers. Frontal crashes are one of the most common types of accidents, so having a car with safety protection in this area can be very beneficial.

Source: ABCnews, “Honda Tops Insurance Industry Safety List,” The Associated Press, December 19, 2013.

Honday Odyssey is the first minivan to earn top safety pick award from IIHS

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Honday Odyssey is the first minivan to earn top safety pick award from IIHS

The 2014 Honda Odyssey was the first minivan to earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) TOP SAFETY PICK+ award this year. The award is given to vehicles who receive a good performance in all five crash evaluations done by IIHS. The institute gives the ratings good, acceptable, marginal, or poor in five different tests and then compares the ratings. In order to receive the award the vehicle must score good in at least four tests and at least acceptable in the fifth. The five tests include moderate overlap front, small overlap front, side, rollover, and rear crash.

The Odyssey was the first minivan to be tested in the very challenging small overlap front test. Honda had requested that IIHS conduct the test themselves. The small overlap test, introduced last year, tests the vehicle when it strikes a small pole like object. The 2014 Odyssey had a great deal of safety changes made which made up for its lack of styling changes. They added high-strength steel in the front door frames, floor pan and front wheel wells, and extended side curtain airbags.

Honda has received 5 of the 6 Top Safety Pick+ awards given. The sixth award was given to Acura for its Acura TL model. The Honda Accord 2-door and 4-door and the Civic 2-door and 4-door also received the award. Families care a great deal about safety when purchasing a vehicle and Honda is doing a great job at making vehicles that promote safety as well as efficiency. Be sure to check out the crash test ratings for Honda’s models, as well as others online through iihs.org.

Source: IIHS, “Honda Odyssey is first minivan to earn the top IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award” Russ Rader, August 29, 2013.

Is bigger always better?

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Is bigger always better?

Typically in United States, people tend to have the perception that bigger is better and, in the case of vehicles, safer. Is that really true?

According to research, it is most often true. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) revealed that the only category of vehicles with a higher fatality than small vehicles is the small pickup category because they tend to rollover more easily.

A few years ago, large sedans and SUVs took over the roads. Within a few years gas prices started to rise and people traded in their large vehicles for smaller and cheaper vehicles that received better gas mileage. Fuel economy was not the only reason there was increase in smaller vehicles sales. Some people choose smaller vehicles because they are economically friendly, easier to drive, and better fit their needs. Even though it might save money or seem logical, safety is a high priority, you may want to reconsider buying a small vehicle. Death rates for small cars in multi-vehicle crashes were nearly double those with large sedans, according to the IIHS.

The key between balancing safety and your wallet is to be informed and knowledgeable. Most people look at crash ratings similar to the ones National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) post when they are shopping for a car. What they do not realize is that if a smaller car scores a “good” rating, it only represents its ratings against other cars in its same category. In the case of a real crash, if you are driving a small vehicle that was rated “good” and you crash into a larger vehicle that had an “acceptable” or even a “poor” rating, you still may end up being seriously injured. Most crash test including those from NHTSA, are performed using a stationary wall and single car. Safety involving multi-vehicle crashes is not something you can judge from those crash tests. The best option is to look beyond the crash ratings and consider all of the safety features which are most important to you. Again, the IIHS and NHTSA websites are a good resource to determine which safety features you should insist on when buying a vehicle. The good news is there are smaller sedans and SUV’s that provide a reasonable margin of safety.


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