Fewer vehicles earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's top awards in 2023 than in 2022 as the group calls for better side-crash protection and pedestrian-crash prevention systems and toughened requirements for headlights.
The organization gave 28 models the Top Safety Pick+ award this year, compared with 65 models in 2022. It awarded another 20 models the Top Safety Pick designation, compared to 36 in 2022, according to a press release.
"The number of winners is smaller this year because we're challenging automakers to build on the safety gains they've already achieved," IIHS President David Harkey said in the release. "These models are true standouts in both crashworthiness and crash prevention."
Top awards went to Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp.
IIHS used four tests to evaluate a vehicle's crashworthiness for a Top Safety Pick Award this year. In the past, IIHS used six tests in the evaluation. To receive the award, vehicles must have a "good" rating in three frontal tests and an "acceptable" or "good" rating for the updated side crash test.
IIHS made the side crash test tougher by using 82% more energy than the original test. Here, vehicles had to earn a "good" rating to qualify for the "plus" tier award.
Additionally, IIHS added "advanced or superior performance" in the nighttime and daytime vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention test as a criteria for the "plus" award. A Top Safety Pick award requires a daytime rating of "advanced" or "superior."
IIHS reported that it added the nighttime vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluation requirement because half of fatal U.S. crashes and three-quarters of fatal pedestrian crashes occur at night, which shows pedestrian crash-avoidance systems perform poorly.
"U.S. traffic fatalities hit a 20-year high in the first half of 2022, in part due to a steady climb in pedestrian crashes," Harkey said. "Safer vehicles can be an important part of the solution, even though reversing the trend will also take a concerted effort from policymakers and other stakeholders."
The headlight requirements for 2023 were also stricter. Both awards now require a "standard acceptable" or "good" rating for headlights across all trim levels and packages. Now vehicles cannot win either award if a trim equipped with inferior headlights is available.
IIHS removed roof strength, head restraining, and vehicle-to-vehicle front crash-prevention tests from the award criteria. Harkey told Automotive News that vehicles have consistently done well in this area, and federal regulations have made the roof strength test less important than it once was.
The results of the awards stacked up as follows:
- Toyota Motor Corp.: Toyota and Lexus vehicles earned nine Top Safety Pick+ and six Top Safety Pick awards.
- Honda Motor Corp.: Honda and Acura brands earned six Top Safety Pick+ and two Top Safety Pick awards.
- Mazda Motor Corp.: It earned six Top Safety Pick awards overall.
- IIHS gave 11 SUVs—including the Mazda CX-30, Ford Explorer and Lincoln Nautilus—Top Safety Pick+ awards.
- The organization gave three pickups—the Rivian R1T crew cab, Toyota Tundra crew cab and Toyota Tundra extended cab—Top Safety Pick+ awards.
- IIHS also awarded two minivans—the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna—Top Safety Pick+ awards.
Award criteria will continue to get tougher on automakers in 2024, according to Harkin. The updated side evaluation will require a strict "good" rating for both awards. A "good" or "acceptable" rating in the updated moderate overlap front test will then be required for the "plus" award.
Originally posted on Auto Dealer Today