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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New SUV Safety Ratings Released

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released another round of SUV safety ratings, and while the news is better, it isn't good for all SUVs. The tests involved nine 4-door midsized models and how the vehicles responded to front, rear, and side crashes. The good news is that SUV safety is improving.

Test Results

Testing in 2001 showed only half of the SUVs tested earned good ratings in frontal crashes. This latest round showed all midsized models, except the Hummer H3, earning good ratings. The worst performers in side tests were the Kia Sorento, Jeep Liberty, and Jeep Wrangler 4-door. The best side crash performers were the Mazda CX-7 and CX-9, as well as the Mitsubishi Endeavor. However, the Mazdas and the Endeavor didn't fare as well with rear-end crash testing.

People often believe they will be safer in an SUV if they are involved in an accident. The IIHS looked at what injuries can occur when the SUV is struck from different positions. Head, neck, and chest protection were evaluated and the vehicles were given a rating. Those models that earned poor side crash ratings are SUVs that lack side airbags, which protect the torso.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

IIHS added ESC to their crash test research in 2007. ESC is a control system made up of sensors that continuously monitors how the vehicle responds to steering input. ESC then applies brakes and modulates an engine's power to keep the SUV traveling on the path the driver has indicated. IIHS research has shown that ESC reduces the risk of single-vehicle accidents ending in a fatality by 56% and multiple-vehicle accidents ending in a fatality by 32%. This feature also reduces single-vehicle rollovers by 80%. ECS is still an option in most SUVs, but the Nissan Murano has made it standard. This helped the Murano win the "Top Safety Pick" by the IIHS.

The Good News

Institute senior vice president Joe Nolan states that there is good news, even for the models that earned poor ratings in one or more category. Safety on these vehicles is improving, especially because more SUVs are equipped with ESC. And manufacturers of SUVs have moved quickly to add safety features, including side airbags.

If you, or a loved one, are in an auto accident involving an SUV, please contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area.

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posted by Neil at 2:40 PM

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