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New testing program gives top ratings to small SUVs for pedestrian crash prevention systems

One of the test scenarios involving an adult-sized dummy.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Most small SUVs got good grades for their pedestrian crash prevention systems under a new safety test launched by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The systems can detect pedestrians in front of the vehicle, alert the driver, and automatically brake.

The Institute gave its top two ratings to nine of the 11 popular, small SUVs it has tested so far.

According to David Aylor, the Institute's manager of active safety testing, the Institute plans to test more SUVs, as well as other vehicles that have pedestrian crash prevention systems.

"These systems can be hugely beneficial in reducing not only fatalities," said Aylor. "But also injuries associated with real world pedestrian crashes."

Aylor said in 2017, almost 6,000 pedestrians died in crashes.

"We just want to encourage the manufacturers to equip more of their vehicles with this technology," said Aylor. "And we want to inform consumers that this technology is out there, and they should really look for it when they are buying a new car."

The Institute gave the highest rating of "superior" to four models: the 2018-19 Honda CR-V, 2019 Subaru Forester, 2019 Toyota RAV4, and 2019 Volvo XC40. Five models earned an "advanced" rating. They were the 2019 Chevrolet Equinox, 2018-19 Hyundai Kona, 2019 Kia Sportage, 2018-19 Mazda CX-5 and 2019 Nissan Rouge. The Institute gave the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander a "basic" rating, and the 2018-19 BMW X1 did not receive any credit for a rating.

Aylor said three common pedestrian crash scenarios were tested. 

The Institute reported that the BMW X1 did not brake at all in one scenario, and had minimal to no speed reductions in the other two.

According to the Institute, the four superior-rated and five advanced-rated SUVs had significant speed reductions in every test scenario. The Institute explained, "that meant the SUVs almost avoided, and in some cases, did avoid striking the pedestrian dummies."

"We'd like to see these vehicles avoid the crash completely," said Aylor. "But if they aren't capable of avoiding, mitigating the speed can still reduce the number of fatalities or limit the injuries that are occurring in the real world."

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