IIHS is a powerful tool in traffic safety

If you read these weekly articles even occasionally, you will often find information from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the agency that crash-tests vehicles just to see just how safe they are. IIHS assigns one of several safety ratings so buyers can see just how safe the vehicles are.

In many cases a vehicle cannot receive a top safety pick unless it meets the stringent criteria for that award. To emphasize the power that the IIHS has to force manufacturers to make safe vehicles, let’s look at Automatic Emergency Braking. This is the feature that will actually brake your vehicle for you, should you not be paying attention to your driving. Ten automakers have fulfilled a voluntary commitment to equip nearly all new light vehicles they produce for the U.S. market with automatic emergency braking (AEB) — well ahead of the 2022-23 deadline. The 10 manufacturers are, along with the percentage of 2020 model vehicles equipped with AEB: Tesla (100%), Volvo (100%), Audi (99%), BMW (99%), Subaru (99%), Volkswagen (98%), Mercedes-Benz (97%), Toyota/Lexus (97%), Hyundai/Genesis (96%) and Mazda (96%).

Of the 10 automakers that met the commitment ahead of schedule, four — Audi, Tesla, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo — did so last year, according to manufacturer reports. This year they are joined by BMW, Hyundai, Mazda, Subaru, Toyota and Volkswagen.

“This voluntary effort is succeeding in getting an important crash prevention technology into vehicles quickly,” says IIHS President David Harkey. “It’s great to see AEB become a mainstream safety feature that’s now standard equipment, not just on luxury cars and SUVs, but on affordable models as well.”

Ford is also ahead of the game for the next stage of the commitment — installing AEB on vehicles in the 8,501-10,000-pound range by 2025-26. Ford has equipped 62% of those heavier vehicles with AEB. Of the four other automakers that reported producing vehicles in that range for the U.S. market, Fiat Chrysler was at 11% and Nissan 9%. Mercedes-Benz and General Motors were both at zero.

Under the terms, manufacturers must attest that the AEB on their vehicles meets certain performance standards for both forward collision warning and automatic braking. The voluntary commitment is expected to prevent 42,000 crashes and 20,000 injuries by 2025. The estimate is based on IIHS research that found that front crash prevention systems with both forward collision warning and automatic braking cut rearend crashes by half.

Keep up the good work, IIHS. You are forcing manufactures to put more safety in our vehicles, and we appreciate it.


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