In a relatively rare bit of good news for Detroit, a traffic safety group announced recently that it rated 72 model-year 2009 vehicles as “Top Safety Picks.” The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an insurance-industry research group, rates brand-new cars each year according to how well they protect passengers in front, side and rear impacts. The press release announcing this year’s picks noted that the 72 models that made the cut this year are more than twice as many as the 2008 crop, and nearly three times the number with the top rating in 2007.
To qualify as a top safety pick, cars, trucks and SUVs must have electronic stability control as a standard or optional feature. Electronic stability control uses computers to automatically detect skids and correct steering by applying brakes in a way that sends the vehicle where the driver is trying to go. Vehicles also must get top scores in IIHS crash tests for front, side and rear impacts, taking into account the availability of safety features like side curtain airbags and correctly designed head restraints. Frontal-impact crash tests are conducted at 40 mph; side crash tests at 31 mph; and rear crash tests measure force on the neck during a 20-mph rear-end accident.
As an Illinois car accident lawyer, I’m interested in vehicle safety ratings in part because not every vehicle deserves an A. Substantial safety defects in new cars (and older ones) are more common than you might think. You may remember the Bridgestone/Firestone tire recall about a decade ago, which affected hundreds of thousands of cars and trucks; those tires are actually blamed for multiple deaths from tire blowouts that caused drivers to lose control at high speeds. Other dangerous flaws in vehicles include improperly attached seatbelts; SUVs and vans prone to rollover accidents; and improperly placed fuel tanks that can burst into flames.
Most accidents are caused by human error — but even the safest driver in the world isn’t safe when vehicles or their parts have flaws. When a safety flaw in a car causes (or contributes to) a serious auto accident, manufacturers can and should be held legally responsible for the results. A Chicago car accident lawsuit can help victims cover medical bills and other costs of the accident, and compensate them for a serious injury or disability and their pain and suffering. If you’d like to learn more about holding automakers responsible for the safety flaws they leave in their vehicles, please contact Abels & Annes today for a free consultation.