More vehicles earn top marks for safety

-FILE - This combination made with photos provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows, clockwise from top left: the 2014 Nissan Leaf, the 2014 Nissan Juke, the 2014 Mazda5 wagon, and the 2014 Fiat 500L during crash tests in 2014. These four vehicles fared worst in frontal crash tests performed by the IIHS, an Arlington, Va.-based safety group that’s funded by insurers. (AP Photo/Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

(WTNH) — The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has released their top safety picks for 2015 with 71 vehicles earning the distinction, compared to just 39 last year.

The IIHS reports that despite the recent news related to manufacturing recalls and exploding airbags, vehicle safety is improving at an impressive rate. Nearly twice as many vehicles earned a “Top Safety Pick” nod from the institute.

To be classified as a “Top Safety Pick”, a new car must offer excellent crash protection. The IIHS puts every new vehicle through a set of various crash tests to determine how the vehicle would fare in an actual accident.

“This is the third year in a row that we are giving automakers a tougher challenge to meet,” said IIHS President Adrian Lund in a statement. “The quest for Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick Plus awards is driving improvement in the small overlap front crash test and getting manufacturers to offer automatic braking technology on more and more vehicles.

Among the vehicles to earn a Top Safety Pick, the Subaru Outback, Acura MDX, Chrysler 200, and 30 other cars that offer optimum collision protection and additional automatic braking systems that help drivers avoid crashes altogether.

A tough hurdle for manufacturers to figure out has been small overlap crashes, when a car’s front corner crashed into a fixed object or vehicle. Toyota won high marks for their improvements in this area.

“Cars, SUVs and pickups are safer than they’ve ever been before,” Lund said.

The complete list of Top Safety Pick winners is available at iihs.org

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