The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says popular vehicles with good driver-side protection may be leaving passengers at risk.
IIHS finds ‘small overlap gap’ in new crash tests
The group conducted 40 mph passenger-side small overlap frontal crash tests on seven small SUVs with good driver-side small overlap ratings.
The small overlap test is designed to replicate what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole.
In this new passenger-side test, only the 2016 Hyundai Tucson performed at a level equal to a good rating. The 2015 Toyota RAV4 was the worst performing vehicle for passenger-side protection.
‘This is an important aspect of occupant protection that needs more attention,’ says Becky Mueller, an IIHS senior research engineer. ‘More than 1,600 right-front passengers died in frontal crashes in 2014.’
Since the small overlap test was introduced in 2012, the IIHS says 13 manufacturers have made structural changes to 97 vehicles, which led to higher “good” ratings. But some of the fixes implemented to the driver-side were not made on the passenger-side.
As a result of the passenger-side test, the IIHS says it’s going to consider adding a passenger-side rating as part of its Top Safety Pick criteria.