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IIHS to Introduce New Crash Tests

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New side crash tests to be introduced next year.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is developing a new side crash test with what the organization says will be “a higher impact speed and a heavier, more realistic movable barrier representing a more modern striking vehicle.” The test will debut next year.

The new test will likely use the same dummies and collect similar information as the current side crash test. “This is an opportunity to build on what we’ve learned in more than 15 years of side testing,” says IIHS Senior Research Engineer Becky Mueller. “We’ll update the things that need updating, but we don’t need to throw out the things that still work well.”

According to the IIHS, current side crash tests need an upgrade because current side ratings “no longer help consumers distinguish among vehicles or point the way toward further improvements.”

The movable barrier currently used in the IIHS side test weighs 3,300 pounds. In 2003, when side crash testing was first introduced, many SUVs on the road were close to that weight, but they have gotten much heavier since then. That’s why the new movable barrier will be 4,200 pounds, the average weight of a 2019 model SUV.

To better reflect real world crash conditions, the new tests will be conduced at higher speeds—60km/hr instead of 50 km/hr, which is the current side crash test speed.

“These changes might not sound like a big deal, but the [10 km/hr] speed increase alone produces 42 percent more crash energy,” Mueller says. “Together with the weight increase, the modified test configuration has 82 percent more energy than our current side rating test.”

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