See How A Car's Crash Prevention Technology Works

June 2, 2020
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently hosted a live video demonstrating the anatomy of a crash test and how vehicle technology is affected.

May 28, 2020—Have you ever wondered what it looks like when collision prevention technology fails? 

Well, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) hosted a live video showcasing the anatomy of a crash test. Do you know what's behind the 2019 IIHS Top Safety Pick awards? 

David Zuby, chief research officer for IIHS and Joe Young, director of media relations for IIHS run through the crash tests and how certain vehicles perform.

What crash tests does the IIHS perform?

The IIHS does three frontal crash tests, with the oldest crash test being the moderate overlap crash test at 20 mph. Other tests include the narrow frontal overlap crash test at 20 mph, a side impact crash test, roof-strength test and a whiplash crash.

The tests are different than the ones the federal government runs under its crash worthiness assessment program because it is looking to test areas not being evaluated already. 

Check out the video below and our timestamps to find out where to go for specific information.

The first crash test shown is the moderate overlap crash test (4:55).  This was developed back in the 1990s. At the time, the U.S. government was testing crashes by slamming a vehicle into a flat wall. This would result in about the same amount of crushing across the front of a vehicle. IIHS researchers noticed that it was rare to see damage disperse like that. 

Onboard footage (7:30) shows how technology and safety systems like airbags are reacting in a crash. 

The side impact crash test (9:39) shows what happens if a car was hit by an SUV or pickup truck. The government's side crash test shows what happens if a car is hit on the side by another car.

IIHS is developing a new phase and new type of side impact crash test with an increased speed. The test would also use a heavier barrier in the test.

The roof strength test (16:25) is the organization's attempt to get automakers to design cars with better protection in rollover crashes. After some research, IIHS found that occupants were less likely to die in a rollover crash if the vehicle had a stronger roof. Occupants were also less likely to be ejected. 

The team crushes the roof and measures how much force is being applied. 

The small overlap frontal crash test (21:48) is a newer test. The IIHS launched this test in 2013. People were still dying in frontal crashes in cars that earned a "good rating" in the moderate overlap crash test.

This test is now performed on the passenger side as well.

The team performed this crash test on the 2019 Jeep Wrangler (29:54) and in the test, it flipped over onto its side.