Automobile Safety Archive

News: Acura Earns Highest Safety Ratings on ALL 2015 models. Two Dorel Boosters Re-Evaluated by IIHS.


Acura Safety v3.0We commend Acura for achieving top overall ratings from the IIHS and NHTSA on every current model!  We awarded the Acura MDX honors as the safest 2015 SUV in a recent article, and would like to acknowledge vehicle manufacturers that place an emphasis on safety.  Acura claims to be the first and only auto manufacturer to earn a 5-star Overall vehicle score from the NHTSA NCAP program, AND a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS across its entire 2015 model line (IIHS TSP+ rating when equipped with collision mitigation braking systems).  Congrats!

CarseatBlog emphasizes crash test ratings and advanced safety features in all our auto reviews.  We strongly encourage other manufacturers to put safety first and to make crash test ratings a top priority for ALL vehicles, as Acura has done.  To put it simply, an NHTSA “5-star” overall rating and IIHS “Top Safety Pick” rating is something every buyer should require in a vehicle.  No new vehicles today should earn anything less than a “4-star” rating from the NHTSA or less than an “Acceptable” rating from the IIHS in any individual crash test result.  Period.

We also encourage all auto makers to equip advanced crash avoidance technologies as standard whenever possible, especially on top trim levels and luxury vehicles.  On economy models and lower trim levels, these features should be readily available in a relatively low cost options package.  All too often, collision mitigation braking systems necessary to qualify for the IIHS Top Safety Pick “+” aware are a hard-to-find option and only on the most expensive trim level.  Then you must tack on thousands of dollars more for a safety technology package, if you can even find one at all on dealer’s lots!  That type of obsolete marketing is NOT putting customers and safety first.


booster_safety-1st_summit-65In other news, the IIHS is correcting two “BEST BET” booster recommendations from 2014.  The Eddie Bauer Deluxe Highback 65 and Safety 1st Summit 65 were given the top rating in error.  The revised rating is “Not Recommended”.  According to the IIHS:

The concern about the Eddie Bauer Deluxe Highback 65 and Safety 1st Summit 65, both manufactured by Dorel Juvenile, is that while the shoulder belt crosses the child’s body at the middle of the shoulder, it is positioned too far forward. In that position, the shoulder belt would be less effective in a crash.

The IIHS states that these models were inadvertently evaluated to the protocol used prior to 2014.  They also note that these ratings only apply to these models in booster mode, and DO NOT apply when used with the 5-point harness system.  Below, you can see the difference between a Good (left) and Poor (right) shoulder belt fit in regard to contact at the shoulder (courtesy of IIHS):

Booster-GOOD-FIT-IIHS (00000002) Booster-POOR-FIT-IIHS

Safe and (Relatively) Inexpensive Newer Cars


Teen rdriversMany families put a high priority on vehicle safety for their kids.  Unfortunately, for various valid reasons, many are not able to go out and buy a brand new car with the latest safety features.  Perhaps others are buying a car for a teen or college student and want something safe, but don’t want them wrecking even a newer car!  Last year, the IIHS recently evaluated hundreds of cars to produce a list of models recommended for teens and recently updated the Safe and Affordable Used Vehicle Recommendations for Teens list for 2015.

I have somewhat different criteria for my teen driver.  For example, while I also exclude the smallest sub-compact and “micro” vehicles, I have no issue with my teen driving a compact sedan if it is close to 3,000 lbs., as long is it has great crash test results.  While compact cars do give up a little in terms of weight in a frontal crash, they are generally more maneuverable and easier to handle and park.  That’s a big deal for new drivers.  Not to mention the lower cost up front and for gasoline!  I am also more concerned about having top results in all the actual crash tests, including the new IIHS small overlap test, and less concerned about certain other results.

Unfortunately, the IIHS excludes compact sedans, even top models with many safety features and decent all-around crash test scores, including their own small overlap test.  In fact, some models they recommend do poorly in this newer test.  Most of their recommendations are well over $10,000.


My Requirements?

  1. 2011 or newer.  That means a much greater chance of finding critical safety features like stability control and side curtain airbags.  Plus this is the year the NHTSA began crash testing with its newer crash test system that doesn’t compare to models before 2011.
  2. Good visibility and handling.
  3. Stability control and side-curtain airbags.
  4. 4-star or better NHTSA overall rating
  5. No “Marginal” or “Poor” IIHS crash test results in ANY test, including the newer small overlap test
  6. No “2-star” or “1-star” ratings in any individual NHTSA crash test or rollover rating.
  7. Around $10,000 or less to buy (or lease over 3 years).
  8. No minicars, sub-compacts or any model below 2,750lbs.  Weight is a bad thing on roads, I know.  More mass means more kinetic energy and more wasted fuel.  But when the other guy is driving a 5,000 lb. truck, the smallest cars become splatter.  On the flip side, smaller cars are easier to drive and generally offer better handling as well.


Walk This Way


Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 10.50.13 AMAs the name would imply, CarseatBlog’s main focus is on keeping kids safe in cars. But children’s safety extends beyond the interior of the vehicle. With school in full swing and with International Walk to School Day (October 7) just around the corner, this is a good time to review pedestrian safety tips.

According to statistics from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, that hospital saw more children injured by cars than in cars. Between January 2010 and December 2014, the hospital admitted 163 children for serious injuries sustained as occupants in cars. During the same time period, it saw 343 children admitted for serious injuries sustained as pedestrians (and another 62 as bicyclists).Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 10.17.19 AM

SafeKids recently launched a very cool interactive infographic, aptly named “How to Not Get Hit by a Car.” It’s designed to help children and teens improve their safety as pedestrians.

The main tips:

  • Put down the cell phone. Distracted walking can be as deadly as distracted driving, and 1 in 5 high schoolers crosses the street distracted.
  • Use crosswalks. More than 80% of child pedestrian deaths are from crossing somewhere other than a crosswalk.
  • Wear light-colored or reflective clothes when walking at night. Of teen pedestrian deaths, 75% occur between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
  • Watch for careless drivers. Look left, right, left, and keep looking as you’re crossing. Don’t assume that drivers see you.
  • Walk on sidewalks. If sidewalks aren’t available, walk facing traffic, and as far over as possible.
  • Watch for cars backing out of driveways and parking spaces. Again, don’t assume the drivers see you.
  • If you’re crossing more than one lane of traffic, check each lane. Pause before stepping into another lane of traffic and make eye contact with each driver.

Some other tips:

  • Make sure children wear helmets any time they’re on a bike.
  • Teach children hand signals for bicycles, and make sure they recognize them even when they’re not the ones on the bikes: They need to know what bicyclists on the road are doing.
  • According to SafeKids, children under 10 should cross the street with an adult. Younger kids don’t have the ability to properly judge the speed and distance of approaching traffic.


2016 Honda Pilot Review: Kids, Carseats & Safety


It’s Bigger, it’s Better, and it’s no longer Boxy.  For some, the more rugged appearance of the previous Pilot was a nice departure from most crossover SUVs on the road today.  For most, the sleeker styling of the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot is a long-awaited improvement.  And the changes only start there.  Almost everything else is also improved in this re-design, borrowing various enhancements from the Acura MDX that was introduced for 2014.


Starting with the inside, it’s more spacious than before and is now among the leaders in the midsize class.  Honda added 3.5 inches to the new Pilot, helping to increase both legroom and cargo space in back.  That’s great for carseats and kids.  Thankfully, Honda didn’t change one of the best things about the Pilot: Four of the 6 rear seats have the LATCH carseat attachment system, while all six have top-tether anchors.  That makes it one of the most flexible SUVs for carseats in back.  Most trim levels seat eight, with only benches available in back, but the Elite trim is only available in a 7-passenger version with an aisle between two second row captain’s chairs.

Other improvements include a cabin that is much more refined and competitive than before, with softer materials all around.  The access to the third row is improved, so even adults can get back there more easily than before.  Cargo space behind the third row is 1.3″ longer than before, and even more spacious when you flip the stowable lid covering the deep storage area below.   If you have a lot of stuff to put behind the third row, the Pilot has more room than almost any midsize competitor.  You’d have to go to a minivan or huge full size SUV to do much better.  And there are lots more charging outlets for all those devices, too!


Update: The 2016 Pilot earned a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS, and a Top Safety Pick+ when equipped with the Honda Sensing Package.  In addition, it earned the top “Good” rating in every individual crash test and a “Superior” front crash protection score.  The NHTSA rated the 2016 Pilot “5-stars” overall, and it earned 5-stars in all individual tests except for the Frontal Barrier Crash Rating for the Female Passenger and the Rollover Rating, both of which were 4-star results.  Very impressive overall.

As for features, there are a full array of airbags and standard safety features, like a multi-angle backup camera and hands-free bluetooth for taking calls on the road.  Only the base LX trim lacks optional advanced safety features. On the EX and EX-L, the Honda Sensing package offers a great array of safety enhancements as an option.