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News from the Institutes: 1997


Very few people need airbag switches

Responding to the government's decision to allow some motorists to get on/off switches for their airbags, IIHS President Brian O'Neill says, "We hope this doesn't result in large numbers of people getting switches because only a small minority of motorists are at risk of serious injury from inflating airbags."

November 18, 1997

No small 4-door cars found to provide good protection

None of the 11 small four-door cars IIHS has evaluated for crashworthiness earns an overall rating of good. The Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla are at the top of the list. Both are rated acceptable, and, with a little improvement, could have earned good evaluations. Five other cars are rated acceptable, one is rated marginal, and three cars are poor.

November 11, 1997

New side airbag system performs well in crash test

A new BMW airbag system designed to protect people's heads in serious side impacts has made an impressive showing in a crash test by IIHS.

October 29, 1997

Crash deaths go up in states that raised speed limits

Five hundred more people died in motor vehicle crashes in the last nine months of 1996 than would otherwise have been expected in the 12 states that raised speed limits on interstates and freeways between December 8, 1995 and April 1, 1996.

October 10, 1997

Death rates, insurance claims vary widely among vehicles

Among 1991-95 models, the Chevrolet Camaro is the passenger vehicle with the most driver deaths per 10,000 registered vehicle years. The Camaro's driver death rate during calendar years 1992-96 was almost 3 times as high as the average. Other vehicles with very high death rates are the Geo Tracker, Pontiac Firebird and two-door Hyundai Scoupe.

September 18, 1997

Saturn performs best among small cars in bumper tests

Saturn's 1997 SL2 performed best among nine small four-door cars, sustaining damage totaling only $655 in four crash tests at 5 mph. In contrast, the 1997 Hyundai Elantra sustained almost 5 times as much damage in the same four tests — more than $3,000 in repair costs. The 1997 Kia Sephia and Mitsubishi Mirage also performed poorly.

August 27, 1997

Survey finds drivers want airbags, despite problems

Many vehicle owners are aware of airbag-related problems, but a large majority believe airbags are effective and wouldn't want to have them deactivated, a new Institute survey indicates.

August 19, 1997

IIHS counters claims about airbag safety

Institute President Brian O'Neill responds to the press conference held by Public Citizen and the Center for Auto Safety  addressing "which cars have the safest and which the most dangerous airbags."

July 3, 1997

Children are always safer riding restrained in the back

A new Institute study shows children are nearly always safer when they ride in the back seat — even if a vehicle doesn't have a passenger airbag.

June 27, 1997

Two large luxury cars are 'best picks'

Among six 1997 large luxury cars recently evaluated for crashworthiness, the BMW 5 Series and Lexus LS 400 earn good overall ratings and are distinguished as "best picks." Both of these models also offer advanced safety features not found in many other cars.

June 18, 1997

Lexus and Mercedes bumpers aren't luxurious

Four of the six 1997 model luxury cars IIHS tested at 5 mph have poor bumpers. All four are imports, and all cost big bucks to repair after walking-speed impacts.

May 8, 1997

SUVs again have highest theft losses

For the second straight year, the two passenger vehicles with the highest insurance losses for theft are the Toyota Land Cruiser and Mitsubishi Montero, both midsize four-wheel-drive SUVs. Theft losses for the Land Cruiser are more than 160 times worse than the losses for the car with the best theft experience, the Mercury Sable sedan.

April 23, 1997

Most passenger vehicles have poor head restraints

In the most comprehensive evaluation of head restraint designs, IIHS has found that more than half of all 1997 passenger vehicles measured have poor restraints. Fewer than 3 percent have head restraint designs with good geometry.

April 8, 1997

Survey finds fewer drinking drivers on the road

Fewer drivers on U.S. roads on weekend nights have been drinking, but the proportion of drivers with high blood alcohol concentrations hasn't changed significantly since 1986. These are the major findings of a new nationwide, roadside breath-test survey sponsored by IIHS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

March 21, 1997

New SUVs disappoint in crash tests

There's still no "best pick" or even a vehicle with a good overall rating among midsize SUVs evaluated for crashworthiness. This is the case even after adding new crash test results for the 1997 Nissan Pathfinder and 1996 Mitsubishi Montero.

March 13, 1997

Collision losses are highest for sports and luxury cars

Sports cars and luxury cars have the highest insurance losses for vehicle damage. Passenger vans and station wagons have the lowest, says a new HLDI study.

January 16, 1997

Negative publicity obscures airbag benefits

Institute President Brian O'Neill today showed photos from recent crash tests to illustrate airbag benefits and told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that motorists should consider disconnecting airbags "only in extremely rare circumstances."

January 9, 1997

Toyota Camry earns 'best pick'; Hyundai Sonata falls short

Crash test results for the newly designed Toyota Camry and Pontiac Grand Prix plus the Hyundai Sonata add to earlier results for midsize 4-door cars. IIHS now has evaluated important aspects of the crashworthiness of 19 midsize models from 13 manufacturers, accounting for about 25 percent of new car sales.

January 7, 1997

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