To earn the highest safety honors from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it's no longer good enough for vehicles to protect people inside the vehicle. They must also protect people outside the vehicle.
For the first time, IIHS is requiring automakers to offer pedestrian-detecting automatic emergency braking systems to receive the group's 2020 Top Safety Pick+ or Top Safety Pick honors. Automakers covet the IIHS awards, which they often trumpet in their marketing because many car buyers give extra consideration to those vehicles. IIHS President David Harkey said the organization decided to require the pedestrian crash prevention technology on its top award, Top Safety Pick+, because of the nation's pedestrian safety crisis. "That was really important because of the spike we’ve seen in pedestrian fatalities over the past decade," he said.
IIHS said 23 vehicles won the Top Safety Pick+ for 2020, while another 41 won the Top Safety Pick. Hyundai Motor Group, which includes the Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands, had the most winners overall with 14.
Notably absent on either list this year were minivans and pickups. Automakers didn't nominate any of them for the awards due to the vehicles' lack of automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, Harkey said.
Other key attributes required to make the two lists include:
A "good" rating on all six crash assessments, including a passenger-side crash test that assesses the safety of passengers when there's a small overlap between cars involved in the collision. This is the first year a "good" rating on this test has been required to make both lists.
"Good" or "acceptable" headlights. If they're standard, that's enough to achieve a Top Safety Pick+. If they're optional, that's enough to achieve a Top Safety Pick. Poor headlight performance has been a significant concern among automotive safety advocates in recent years.
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