Vehicle safety is always a hot issue – buyers want the latest and greatest technology, but don’t want to pay a premium. Manufacturers, on the other hand, don’t want to weigh down their vehicles with pricey safety features that will take away from their bottom line.
This conflict is evident in the current debate over roof strength. Organizations like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) – backed by the insurance industry – have been vigorously lobbying for manufacturers to increase the strength of vehicle roofs beyond what is required under current federal law. Manufacturers, however, see this as a change that will add expense and weight to vehicles during a time when consumers are demanding less expensive cars with better gas mileage.
In this situation the IIHS has made a bold move. They decided to include roof strength testing as a part of their criteria for their 2010 Top Safety Pick awards, which will essentially force manufacturers to strengthen their roofs if they want their vehicles included on this list.
What is surprising is how many vehicles failed to make the Top Safety Pick award list for 2010. In fact, only 27 vehicles made it onto the list this year, while 94 were on last year’s list. What changed between testing for the 2009 Top Safety Picks and the 2010 awards? It seems that rollover testing really winnowed down the list of top safety picks for 2010.
IIHS commended several auto manufacturers for making the cut, notably Subaru, Ford, Volvo, Volkswagen / Audi and Chrysler. These manufacturers produced vehicles that were found to provide good protection in rollover crashes, with more than twice the roof strength required by federal standards.
Several manufacturers were cited by IIHS for “missing the mark” on rollover safety. One big surprise was the absence of Toyota (including Lexus and Scion) on the 2010 list of top safety picks – not a single one of their vehicles made the cut, despite having 11 vehicles on the list last year. In addition, BMW, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Saab were missing from the list this year, having made a showing in previous years.
Now that IIHS is making roof strength a priority, manufactures may have to succumb to the pressure to make their vehicles safer. The strategy has worked in the past – manufacturers have been pressured to improve front and side impact protection because of IIHS safety testing, and they have also upgraded safety features to include improved head restraints and electronic stability control. Next year’s safety testing will be telling: which manufacturers are dedicated to keeping their occupants safe? Only time will tell.
Do you need help after a major motor vehicle crash? If you or someone you love was hurt in a car, truck or motorcycle collision in southeastern Virginia or northeastern North Carolina then you should know that there is hope. Please contact the experienced auto accident lawyers at Tavss Fletcher today for a no cost, no obligation review of your case.
555 East Main Street, 14th Floor
Norfolk, VA 23510
Telephone: (757) 625-1214
Facsimile: (757) 622-7295