IIHS Issues First Used Car Safety Picks To Help Parents Buy Cars for Kids
|   Monday, August 18, 2014
Once the mouthpiece for the car insurance industry, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and its sister organization the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) have shed that limited mold to become well-respected suppliers of car safety information.

It began when IIHS began running its own independent safety testing program where new cars were put through crash tests to determine just safe a vehicle would be in a crash late in the last century.
The key to these dummied tests (where the tests not only included crashing the car but also using instrumented crash dummies to gather more safety information) was their independence.

Though supported by the insurance industry, IIHS managed to distance and insulate itself from criticisms that they were just fronting for the auto industry and were auto insurance industry shills by presenting the information their tests generated in an objective format, letting the chips fall where they may. For example, IIHS pointed out in rear crash tests of the Prius a couple of years ago that it would cost the average consumer more than $6,000 to repair a simple 5 mph rear bumper-thumper crash that crunched the rear bumper because the rams that control the and absorb the impact didn't extend to the rear quarter panels, which is an industry standard. All it would have taken was about three feet of metal beam and the Prius would have ended up virtually crash-resistant.

It was a real "oops" moment, auto observers noted, for Toyota as one of its most successful and best-selling lines were subject to some of the highest crash-repair costs in the industry. The same year, the Ford Focus was lauded by IIHS for its full bumper protection system.

IIHS gained full acceptance as an independent provider of car safety information when it began its yearly Top Safety Pick program and its Top Safety Pick + program for new cars.

It was about this time that people began to ask the IIHS where information might be on the cars they were buying for their kids. You see, the Top Safety Pick programs were aimed at new cars and it is highly unlikely that financially stretched parents would be able to buy new cars for their new teen drivers.

Indeed, that was the central comment more than 83 percent of those questioned in a scientific phone survey for IIHS/HLDI asked. The poll also showed what IIHS' intuition also showed that few parents could afford or would buy a new car for their new driver.

What was important to those polled was getting unbiased safety information on the cars parents might buy for their teens.

"A teenager's first car is more than just a financial decision," says IIHS President Adrian Lund. "Those lists of recommended used vehicles (gathered by IIHS) can help consumers factor in safety in addition to affordability."

The lists Lund was referring to were the lists of cars compiled by IIHS specifically with safety and affordability in mind. The lists try to address the important safety criteria that parents want about cars they may buy as their teen's first ride.

Currently, the IIHS system uses a two-tiered listing of recommended cars and options at various price points, ranging from less than $5,000 to nearly $20,000. In this was, observers have pointed out, that parents can get the most safety for their car-buying dollar to ensure their teens have the safest vehicles they can afford.
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