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IIHS Revises Criteria for Crash Test Safety Awards

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Beginning in 2020, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is making it more difficult for automakers to earn Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick recognition for their respective models. This is according to the institute’s revised criteria for judging vehicles undergoing its crash tests.

For the Top Safety Pick Plus award, IIHS is now requiring vehicles to score a Good rating in all crash tests, including the passenger-side small overlap front test. This is the same as the current criteria, but when it comes to the Top Safety Pick award, vehicles must also get a Good rating in all six crash tests instead of the Acceptable rating in the passenger-side test. In short, both awards now have the same requirements in all six crash tests conducted by the IIHS.

According to IIHS, decent headlights should be standard among cars and not only optional.

Moreover, the IIHS is requiring vehicles to include the vehicle-to-pedestrian category instead of only including the vehicle-to-vehicle category in the frontal-crash prevention tech. In both technologies, vehicles must get an Advanced rating or higher. Based on existing pedestrian-detection systems, most do not work as advertised.

Finally, IIHS is requiring vehicles to score a Good or Acceptable rating for standard equipment headlights in order to get a Top Safety Pick Plus recognition. The institute is no longer awarding the highest recognition to vehicles simply by having Good or Acceptable ratings for optional headlights.

In recent Top Safety Pick Plus awards given by the IIHS, the majority of the models were recognized for having Good or Acceptable headlights that are usually only available on the most expensive trim levels and not a standard-issue across the board. This is expected to be the game changer in the coming year as the IIHS continues to conduct tests on upcoming vehicles.

“Decent headlights should be a given, and we hope this change to our criteria will push manufacturers to make them standard across their lineups,” IIHS Chief Research Officer David Zuby said.

As for the Top Safety Pick category, winners will also be determined by the addition of the vehicle-to-pedestrian segment, but Good or Acceptable headlights may be optional and not standard.

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