Thanksgiving Driving Safely
Does Your Vehicle Get Top Safety Marks? (Spoiler: Probably Not)

If you’re the proud owner of a 2018 vehicle, you might assume that it comes with the best safety features available. But that’s not necessarily true.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, only 15 of the 2018-model-year vehicles it tested qualified for its highest safety rating. IIHS has been conducting crash tests on new cars since 2006, but last fall’s test of 2018 models was the first that considered passenger–side overlap-crash safety, and headlight safety.

Overlap crashes are frontal impacts that affect just one corner of the vehicle. IIHS notes that manufacturers have long looked at improving overlap-crash safety for the driver’s side, but the passenger’s side hasn’t been a high priority. IIHS said it hopes that overlap-crash safety will soon be symmetric, protecting drivers and passengers equally.

And The Winners Are…

To qualify for the best rating of “Top Safety Pick+” a vehicle had to score at least a “Good” rating for headlight illumination and a “Good” or “Acceptable” rating for passenger-side small-overlap crash tests. These were the 15 vehicles that met those requirements:

  • BMW – 5 Series
  • Kia – Forte (sedan), Soul
  • Hyundai – Genesis G80, Genesis G90, Santa Fe, Santa Fe Sport
  • Lincoln – Continental
  • Mercedes-Benz – E-Class (sedan), GLC
  • Subaru – Impreza, Legacy, Outback, WRX
  • Toyota – Camry

Another 47 vehicles earned the next highest rating, “Top Safety Pick.” To qualify, vehicles needed a good or acceptable headlight rating and good or acceptable passenger-side overlap-crash protection.

Base Models May Be Inferior

Most vehicles in the two highest ratings categories were not base models – only with optional upgrades, such as headlight packages and front-crash avoidance systems, did they qualify for their safety rating.

“Autobrake” automatic braking systems, which can prevent rear-end crashes, aren’t standard on most vehicles, although many manufacturers say autobrake will be available in most base models by 2022. Toyota is ahead of other manufacturers in this regard – most of its base-model vehicles come with autobrake and other advanced safety features.

Autotrader points out that buying a base-model car may be a more affordable option, but it advises consumers to at least test-drive models with helpful safety technology – such as autobrake, lane-departure warning systems, and blindspot cameras – to be “absolutely sure” about whether those features matter.

Just as air bags and antilock brakes eventually became standard in new vehicles, the safety features that are currently available only as upgrades, or in luxury models, may eventually be standard in all cars. If manufacturers really care about the safety of their customers, they’ll work toward including more safety features in base-model cars.

If you have questions about the safety of your vehicle, and how it might apply to your situation, discuss it with one of the attorneys at the Austin, TX-based Evans Law Firm. As personal injury attorneys with years of experience, we help the people of Texas put their lives back on track. We offer small law firm attention with big law firm results. Call us today at (855) 414-1012 or fill out this online contact form to find out how we can help you.