Finding a safe car is of paramount importance for most drivers. That's why many motorists turn to safety ratings for insight into the automobiles that can protect them on the roads. There's a lot of variation among these rankings, however, which means drivers have to delve a little deeper to discover the car that's right for them.
More vehicles excelling at safety
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety routinely tests vehicles and evaluates their response to dangerous situations. For the 2015 model year, the organization awarded 71 automobiles with the distinction of Top Safety Pick
- a vast increase from the 39 vehicles that earned the title in the previous year.
More cars are also being honored as a Top Safety Pick+, which is reserved for the very best of the best in the auto industry. Top Safety Pick+ is given to vehicles that meet the criteria for a Top Safety Pick while also having a front crash prevention system rated as "advanced" or "superior." Previously, vehicles could earn this title with a basic rating for crash prevention systems, but the IIHS chose to make it more exclusive.
"Although forward collision warning on its own is a valuable feature, we decided to tighten our criteria to encourage manufacturers to offer autobrake. Systems that don't require a driver response to avoid or mitigate a crash have the most potential for reducing crashes," said IIHS President Adrian Lund of the elevated ranking. "Nevertheless, the models that are losing their plus signs are still great choices for safety, as are all the Top Safety Pick winners."
Models to watch
With so many cars improving safety standards, drivers have many models to consider. The IIHS noted a few that have made serious advancements in this regard. One such model was the 2015 Honda CR-V, which was named a Top Safety Pick+ thanks to changes to the front framework and seat belt. The Toyota Prius was also applauded for its massive improvements. Now that the model has larger airbags and a stronger frame, the eco-friendly car can protect its passengers with ease.
Safety technologies and crash avoidance systems do more than just keep drivers protected in the event of an accident. Although that is the main benefit, there are also some secondary perks. Preventative systems can reduce total auto repair
expenses. Some vehicle maintenance
will be needed to ensure these technologies are operating as they should, but that cost should be much lower than extensive fixes.