A new study has been conducted to see how passengers fare in the event of a collision and the results are not reassuring.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) added the small overlap front crash test in 2012 to determine how well a driver is protected in the event of a frontal crash. Now it’s conducted initial tests out to find out how well passengers are protected in a right-side small overlap crash. The study found that good protection on the driver side doesn’t always extend across the front seat to the passenger side.
To test how well vehicles held up, IIHS conducted 40-mph passenger-side small overlap tests on seven small SUVs that received a good rating on the driver-side small overlap test. Surprisingly, only one vehicle performed at the same level, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson. The rest of the vehicles ranged from poor to acceptable, despite getting a good rating on the driver-side test.
As a result, IIHS is considering adding a passenger-side rating as part of its Top Safety Pick+ criteria, and could once again change how vehicles are made. For example, since the small overlap test was first introduced, 13 automakers have made structural changes to 97 vehicles. Three-quarters of those have earned a good rating as a result of the changes.
The 2015 Buick Encore, 2015 Honda CR-V and 2015 Mazda CX-5 all received an acceptable rating in the passenger-side small overlap test. Two vehicles received a moderate rating, the 2014 Nissan Rogue and 2014 Subaru Forester. The one vehicle to receive a poor rating was the 2015 Toyota RAV4.
“This is an important aspect of occupant protection that needs more attention,” says Becky Mueller, an IIHS senior research engineer and the lead author of the study. “More than 1,600 right-front passengers died in frontal crashes in 2014.”