The IIHS also tests how safe a car is when hit from the side. According to the Institute, about 25 percent of accidents involving the side of the vehicle result in a death. This is because there is less area on the side of a vehicle to absorb the impact. Fortunately, the advancement of side airbags and side-curtain airbags have helped keep passengers safer than ever before.
The IIHS’ side crash test is quite severe and involves a 3,300-lb barrier striking the vehicle at a speed of 31 MPH. There are two dummies inside the car both the same size as a small female adult. The IIHS chooses dummies of this size because shorter drivers are more likely to have their heads come into contact with the striking vehicle in a left-side crash.
Ratings are determined for side crashes in a similar way to front crashes. Engineers analyze the data obtained from the sensors in the dummy, observe the greasepaint in the car and study how the cabin’s structure dealt with impact. According to the IIHS’ research, the driver of a “Good” rated vehicle is 70 percent less likely to die in a left-side crash, when compared with a driver of a vehicle that is rated poor. A driver of a vehicle with an acceptable rating is 64 percent less likely to die, while a driver of a vehicle rated marginal is 49 percent less likely to die