Passengers may be at risk for serious injury in some small SUVs

Automobile manufacturers must comply with a number of safety inspections for vehicles they bring to market, including small SUVs. These standards help to protect drivers from severe injury in an accident, but what about the passengers?

A recent crash test of seven small SUVs was conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The results showed that, while the driver-side was fully protected in both head-on and side crash scenarios, that wasn't always the case for the passenger-side.

The IIHS test included the following vehicles: 2016 Hyundai Tucson, 2015 Buick Encore, 2015 Honda CR-V, 2015 Mazda CX-5, 2014 Nissan Rogue, 2014 Subaru Forester and 2015 Toyota RAV4. The SUVs were tested in 40 mph crashes to the front and sides. One of four ratings was given to each vehicle for driver and passenger safety: Good, Acceptable, Marginal and Poor.

All seven vehicles received a Good rating for the driver side, but only the Hyundai Tucson received that rating for the passenger side. The Buick Encore, Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 received an Acceptable rating for the passenger side, while the Nissan Rogue and Subaru Forester received a Marginal rating. One vehicle, the Toyota RAV4, received a Poor rating for the passenger side.

The results of this crash test are prompting the IIHS to include passenger-side ratings as part of its Top Safety Pick criteria. This could be implemented as early as 2018.

"This is an important aspect of occupant protection that needs more attention," Becky Mueller, an IIHS senior research engineer and the lead author of the study said regarding the results. 

Hopefully, the IIHS crash tests will also encourage automobile manufacturers to improve passenger-side safety in their vehicles.

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