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Seeing and stopping: Automakers making big safety improvements

| Jan 5, 2021 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Ten automakers have improved 2021 vehicles by outfitting them with better headlights. And ten manufacturers have not only kept their promise to equip new vehicles with automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems, they’ve done it ahead of schedule. The safety improvements are expected to help significantly reduce motor vehicle crashes in 2021 and beyond.

Let there be lights

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says automakers have improved headlights in order to qualify for the group’s prestigious safety awards. Eligibility for the Top Safety Pick+ award – the group’s highest – requires vehicles to be equipped with headlights rated good or acceptable across all available trims.

The IIHS began the process of toughening its headlights five years ago when research showed that about half of fatal crashes in the U.S. happen in the dark, and more than 25 percent of deadly crashes are on unlit roads.

The IIHS began rating headlights in 2016. In that first year, only two of the 95 tested models were rated good. Of the 185 vehicles tested for model year 2020, 85 had headlights rated good.

The group says that so far, its testing of 2021 models indicates manufacturers are determined to make their vehicles eligible for the top IIHS safety award by eliminating model packages that included poor or marginal headlights.

The 10 models that are now only available with good or acceptable headlights: the Audi A7, Honda Accord, Hyundai Palisade, Mazda CX-30, Nissan Altima, Subaru Ascent, Toyota Highlander, Volvo S60, Volvo XC40 and Volvo XC60.

Speeding toward braking goal

The IIHS says 20 automakers voluntarily committed “to equip nearly all the new light vehicles they produce for the U.S. market with automatic emergency braking” by the model year that begins Sept. 1, 2022. So far, 10 have put the safety technology on more than 95 percent of their vehicles.

Three other carmakers have equipped more than 90 percent of their vehicles with AEB, while five manufacturers that made the promise have equipped fewer than half of their vehicles with the crash-avoidance tech.

Four of the 10 who kept their promise ahead of schedule – Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and Tesla – did so in 2019. Six more did it in 2020: BMW, Hyundai, Mazda, Subaru, Toyota and Volkswagen.

The three manufacturers with AEB in more than 90 percent of their vehicles are Ford, Honda and Nissan.

The five with fewer than half of their vehicles equipped with AEB: Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Maserati and Mitsubishi.

The IIHS notes that the voluntary AEB commitment does not include phase-in milestones. The 20 manufacturers simply agreed to have AEB in more than 95 percent of their vehicles by the target date.

According to IIHS research, the promise to include AEB is expected to prevent more than 40,000 motor vehicle crashes and 20,000 injuries by 2025.

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