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February 6, 2018

Why Front Passenger Crash Tests May Increase Safety

New Crash Test Evaluates Front Passenger Safety

crash_testSafety is a major consideration among car buyers. In recent years, automakers have taken notice, adding a wide array of features designed to keep drivers safe and sound in the event of an accident.

However, while much of the focus has been on improving safety for drivers, far less attention has been paid to the issue of protecting passengers in the front seat.

To ensure manufacturers don't forget about front passengers when designing new safety features for vehicles, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) developed a new crash testthat specifically evaluates front passenger safety.

Accidents That Endanger Front Passengers

They may not be behind the wheel but in an accident, front passengers are susceptible to many of the same injuries as drivers. Additionally, front passengers aren't just at risk in collisions involving the front right side of the vehicle.

The following types of crashes can be particularly dangerous for them:

  • Head-on collisions. Often fatal, this type of accident occurs when the front ends of two vehicles collide.
  • Underride accidents. When a car hits the side of a tractor-trailer, it can become lodged underneath, which often sheers off the top of the vehicle, decapitating the occupants.
  • Side-impact or broadside collisions. Also known as T-bone accidents, this type of collision occurs when the front of a vehicle crashes into the side of another vehicle. Side-impact crashes that happen on the right side of the vehicle can be particularly hazardous for front passengers.
  • Rollovers. Front seat passengers may be injured or killed in crashes that cause the vehicle to roll onto its side or roof.
  • Rear-end collisions. Though front passengers may not seem at risk of being injured in read-end accidents, these crashes may cause soft-tissue injuries, such as whiplash.
  • Single-vehicle crashes. If a driver falls asleep and runs off the road, this may result in a in a single-vehicle accident, which may endanger a passenger in the front seat.

IIHS Passenger-Side Small Overlap Frontal Test

In 2012, the IIHS introduced the driver-side small overlap frontal test, which involves maneuvering a vehicle into a barrier at 40 miles per hour while one-quarter of the vehicle's driver-side front end overlaps the barrier. Designed to simulate what happens when the front corner of a vehicle hits a tree, light pole or other obstacle, the results of the test spurred automakers to make significant improvements to vehicle structures and restraints.

The IIHS's new passenger-side small overlap frontal test is virtually identical to the Institute's driver-side small overlap frontal test except, as the name suggests, the test collision happens on the front passenger side. A crash test dummy in the passenger seat helps researchers evaluate the efficacy of a vehicle's safety features.

The new passenger-side small overlap frontal test has been added to the IIHS's regular battery of crash tests and vehicles must obtain a good or acceptable rating to be eligible for the institute's coveted Top Safety Pick+ award.

IIHS Passenger-Side Crash Test Ratings

In October 2017, the IIHS evaluated 13 midsize vehicles from the 2017 and 2018 model years, assigning them good, acceptable, and marginal ratings as follows:


  • 2018 Subaru Outback
  • 2018 Subaru Legacy
  • 2018 Toyota Camry
  • 2017 Ford Fusion
  • 2017 Honda Accord
  • 2017 Lincoln MKZ
  • 2017 Mazda 6
  • 2017 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2017 Nissan Altima
  • 2017 Nissan Maxima


  • 2017 Volkswagen Jetta


  • 2017 Volkswagen Passat
  • 2017 Chevrolet Malibu

Consult an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

If you were hurt in a car accident while riding in the front passenger seat, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The knowledgeable legal team with McGartland Law Firm can review your case and explain your options. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case analysis.

call 1-866-832-9300 today for a free consultation

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