Every year the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) releases their top picks auto safety. The ratings help consumers understand what they should be looking for in a new vehicle.

The IIHS focus has been on the safety of the driver, but its focus in 2020 is on people both inside and outside the vehicle. This year, the IIHS placed the safety emphasis on nighttime visibility, pedestrian protection and passenger safety. Mazda and Hyundai vehicles were standout performers in the testing.

Why has the IIHS changed priorities?

The rise of pedestrian deaths within the last decade has set this change in motion. The IIHS, which is supported by the insurance industry, hopes to inspire automakers to help solve the growing problem of pedestrian safety.

Crash avoidance is one of the most important features people should look for in their vehicles this year. As cars get smarter, the hope of avoiding crashes increases. For example, many automakers have installed auto-braking systems in their vehicles. The IIHS encourages automakers to continue to make vehicles safer and improve the existing safety features.

How the IIHS score is decided

Four factors determine a car’s overall IIHS safety score.

  1. A road test: This test looks at how the vehicle performs on real roads for the day-to-day car driver. The IIHS looks at how each vehicle performs in emergency situations and normal situations to confirm the safety systems and usability of the vehicle.
  2. Reliability: Every year, IIHS collects data that measures the reliability of the vehicles. The experiences from thousands of cars offer detailed information for the data.
  3. Owner satisfaction: Customers are asked if they would buy the same car if they had the chance to do it again. This test requires the owner to decide if the car lived up to their expectations.
  4. Overall safety: Crash tests are performed on each car. The IIHS gives extra credit for enhanced safety precautions that automakers install. Examples include safety systems that reduce crashes, injuries, pedestrian deaths and blind-spot crashes.

For over a decade, the IIHS has been on a quest to identify the safest vehicles. Its ratings offer information that would have otherwise been unavailable to the consumer.