Automakers have completed a voluntary agreement whereby all new cars and light trucks are now designed to be more compatible in front- and side-impact crashes.
Since launching the agreement in 2003, manufacturers have been increasing the percentage of vehicles with the “compatibility engineering,” by matching the front structural components of different vehicles so that they align.
This simple design change enhances the vehicle’s ability to manage and absorb crash energy. The agreement covers BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Isuzu, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota and Volkswagen.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) field studies support the substantial real-world benefits of the re-designed vehicles. The fatality rate of belted car drivers in frontal crashes with 2000-03 model light trucks during 2000-04 was 19% lower when the light trucks already met the criteria than when they did not. The research also found a 19% reduction in car driver fatality rates when the cars were struck in the side by light trucks meeting the criteria.
To improve head protection in cars struck in the side, the automakers have also installed head-protecting enhancements such as side airbags. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) research indicates that side airbags with head protection are reducing driver fatality risk by about 37% percent in crashes involving the driver’s side of the vehicle.