IIHS Updates Crash Prevention Testing: Only One Model Excels

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has taken significant strides in refining their vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention test. The revised guidelines now incorporate scenarios at higher speeds and involve a broader spectrum of vehicle types, including motorcycles and large trucks. This update comes at a critical time as advancements in automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems have become increasingly standard in new vehicles, yet significant challenges in crash prevention persist, particularly at higher speeds and with non-standard vehicles.

IIHS Crash Testing

The New Testing Parameters

The revamped IIHS crash test extends beyond the previous speed limits of 12 and 25 mph to include higher speeds of 31, 37, and 43 mph. This change aims to more accurately reflect the conditions under which many severe accidents occur.

Additionally, the test now evaluates the system’s effectiveness against diverse targets such as passenger cars, motorcycles, and semi-trailers. The inclusion of motorcycle and semi-trailer targets addresses critical gaps in previous evaluations, where data suggested that current systems were less adept at handling these scenarios.

Experts point out that high-speed impacts pose greater dangers, and crashes involving large trucks often result in deadly underride incidents, while motorcyclists face increased fatalities when rear-ended due to a lack of physical barriers for protection.

“This is a vital update to one of our most successful test programs,” IIHS President David Harkey said. “The vast majority of new vehicles now come with automatic emergency braking, and our research shows the technology prevents as many as half of all front-to-rear crashes. This new, tougher evaluation targets some of the most dangerous front-to-rear crashes that are still happening.”

Evaluating Advanced Safety Technologies

In the updated tests, vehicles are assessed based on the performance of their forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking systems. The evaluation criteria are stringent, awarding points for warnings issued sufficiently ahead of an imminent crash and for the effectiveness of speed reduction by the AEB system.

The Subaru Forester stood out by earning a ‘good’ rating, demonstrating robust collision avoidance capabilities across various test scenarios, including effectively avoiding impacts with both the car and motorcycle targets at multiple speeds.

On the other hand, other popular models like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 received ‘acceptable’ ratings, showing discrepancies in performance, especially at the highest speed tests against motorcycle targets. Moreover, vehicles such as the Ford Escape and Hyundai Tucson received ‘marginal’ ratings, indicating occasional late warnings and inadequate speed reductions in critical moments.

The Challenge Ahead for Manufacturers

This rigorous testing regime underscores a pivotal challenge for auto manufacturers: enhancing the responsiveness and accuracy of their crash prevention systems across a wider range of speeds and more complex scenarios. The new test criteria reflect real-world conditions more accurately and push manufacturers to elevate safety standards.

The IIHS has noted that while many vehicles previously achieved top ratings under older, less demanding tests, the new standards reveal significant room for improvement. Consumers should note the change in testing criteria when evaluating current new models.

A Call for Enhanced Safety Standards

The IIHS’s new crash test guidelines represent a significant advancement in automotive safety, focusing on particularly hazardous types of crashes. As vehicle technologies advance, the benchmarks for safety evaluation must also evolve. These updated standards expose existing shortcomings and chart a path for future improvements in vehicle safety technologies. Manufacturers are now tasked with upgrading their systems to comply with these stringent criteria, an effort that promises to enhance road safety for all.

See AlsoThe All-New 2025 Subaru Forester

Chart courtesy of IIHS.

Matt Keegan
Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan is a journalist, media professional, and owner of this website. He has an extensive writing background and has covered the automotive sector continuously since 2004. When not driving and evaluating new vehicles, Matt enjoys spending his time outdoors.

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