Car Safety Takes the Front Seat in America
Within a matter of seconds yesterday afternoon, I almost backed into a kid and got backed into by a vehicle. Thanks to a backup camera, I saw the kid at the last second, and thanks to the basic functionality of a car horn, I alerted the backing-up driver to my presence before getting hit.
It was a heart-pounding couple of seconds, to say the least, but goes to show the importance of safety features in vehicles. The horn is probably among the oldest of safety devices, while the backup camera is one of the newest. I’m lucky the Legacy I was driving was equipped with both.
Call it coincidental, but on the same day of the two close calls, I read that the Legacy was one of the few sedans to earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety‘s Top Safety Pick+ rating.
The list was especially difficult to make this year, mostly because the IIHS
requires a vehicle to perform well in the so-called small overlap test. Designed to replicate a common type of real-world crash, 25 percent of a vehicle’s front end on the driver’s side strikes a rigid barrier at 40 mph. The test reflects what happens when the front corners of two vehicles collide, or when a car clips a tree or utility pole.
Organizations like the IIHS are beneficial, because they push automakers to meet tough safety standards, thereby keeping occupants safer. Last year 130 different models were recognized as Top Safety Picks, while only 39 made the list this year.
That’s a good thing, since it should nudge automakers in the right direction at a faster rate than if they were left to their own devices.
All this info is good, but it takes some real-world experiences to drive the importance of safety home. I believe safety ratings should be as important as fuel economy or performance specs, especially after seeing a kid appear in the backup camera.
How important are safety ratings to you when you’re looking for a new or used car?