A total of 34 autos were chosen for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s 2008 Top Safety Pick award. Vehicles are scored based on ratings for front, side, and rear crashes and must have electronic stability control (ESC), which can reduce risk of crashes.
This year’s winners have more than doubled from last year, due to changes in vehicle designs. In addition, pickup trucks were finally eligible because the Institute started side crash testing them.
Among the family vehicles that won the honors are Ford Taurus (with the optional ESC); Honda Accord, Odyssey, CR-V and Pilot; Toyota Highlander; Audi A6, A3, and A4; and the Volvo S80. Twenty-three vehicles, including several Toyota and Nissan models, came close to making the list, but their seat/head restraint ratings weren’t high enough.
Here’s a quick video that tells more about the awards and how vehicles are chosen:
All current car and minivan models, small and mid-size SUVs, and small and large pickups are eligible to win. The winners have a features to help avoid crashes, a requirement that was added last year. The feature? ESC, a control system of sensors and a microcomputer. It helps prevent sideways skidding and control loss that can lead to a rollover.
Several moms have mentioned to me their concerns about rear crashes, and these awards address that issue by testing and rating those kind of accidents. The IIHS says that rear crashes aren’t usually fatal, but do result in a large number of injuries.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers. For over 30 years the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has been a leader in finding out what works and doesn't work to prevent motor vehicle crashes in the first place and reduce injuries in the crashes that still occur. The Institute's research focuses on countermeasures aimed at all three factors in motor vehicle crashes (human, vehicular, and environmental) and on interventions that can occur before, during, and after crashes to reduce losses.
For a complete listing of the winners and how vehicles were judged, take a look at the IIHS press release about the awards.
I’ll be checking this out and keeping these in mind the next time I shop for our family car. My current Accord is almost ten years old and doesn’t even include a LATCH system for child safety seats. It may be about time to replace her. Information like this will certainly help me be a more savvy buyer. And as a mom, knowing I’m getting a safer vehicle for my family won’t hurt, either.
By Becky Scott