— The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is updating its side crash test to help a consumer make better choices when choosing which vehicle to purchase based on the safety record.
According to IIHS, engineers believe a new side crash test that uses higher impact speeds and heavier striking barriers should provide more realistic results.
Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced upgrades to its crash test procedures, IIHS says official government tests lack the importance of the risks of head injuries caused by impacts with taller vehicles.
Side impact crash tests performed by IIHS are allegedly more accurate than NHTSA's test because the movable barriers which slam into vehicles mimic the height and shape of the front-end of a typical SUV or pickup. IIHS is also known for using crash test dummies that represent a small woman or 12-year-old child.
IIHS says the face of the barrier is changing to better replicate a 37 mph crash as it occurs in real-world impacts. The new barrier will challenge automakers to strengthen the sides of vehicles because the weight of the barrier will be increased to nearly 4,200 pounds, which is the average weight of a 2019 SUV.
By increasing the speed of the crash and the weight of the barrier, engineers say the new side impact test will provide 82% more energy than the current test.
With side impacts causing 23% of passenger deaths in 2018, IIHS says it needs to keep the best methods from current crash testing and apply new standards automakers must meet to receive good safety ratings.
Automakers typically make changes to their vehicles if they don't do well in IIHS tests, something the organization believes will occur with the new side crash test planned for 2020.