Safety standards are only getting stricter with time, forcing auto makers to consider new features, strategies and technologies to secure a high ranking and attract more consumers. Until kinks in the latest high-tech systems are worked out, though, drivers will need to be diligent with vehicle maintenance and car tune ups to ensure optimal safety.
According to CBS News, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently launched a new crash test after finding that 2,500 lives were lost a year every due to crashes associated with the "frontal small overlap." These incidents involved at least one-fourth of the car's front colliding with another vehicle, pole or tree, and this impact can often hinder the effectiveness of air bag protection as well as other built-in security structures.
The news outlet noted that compact crossover SUVs are particularly vulnerable to these kinds of crashes. The 2014 Subaru Forester was the only one of the 13 models tested from 2013 and 2013 that got a top rating of "good" in this regard. CBS reported that Volvo won the overall "Top Safety Pick +" rating for both the S60 sedan and the XC60 SUV. Meanwhile, three models each by Honda and Subaru achieved the highest possible rating, which requires successively passing four out of five crash tests. The vehicles were put through moderate overlap frontal crash, side crash, roof strength in rollovers and head restraint tests to supplement the small overlap test.
It's no surprise that, in the face of tougher testing, many auto makers are looking to technology to create automated safety features. The Los Angeles Times revealed that these systems are able to monitor the speed of a car in front and slow down or speed up to ensure optimal distance, or notify drivers of a potential collision from behind. Other systems are even able to alert a driver when they are veering out of the lane or move the headlights so that they have better vision when making turns.
"We think these systems can make a huge difference in saving lives," said David Strickland, chief of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as quoted by the news source.
One of the most obvious benefits of these features is that they may be able to prevent injuries, but Matt Moore, a vice president at the Highway Loss Data Institute, says they could also significantly reduce insurance rates. Still, the technologies haven't been perfected just yet. The news outlet explained that since sensors have no way of knowing that a car in front of you is is turning, the system might unnecessarily trigger the brakes.