Safest Rides for 2015?

Safest Rides for 2015?

Think about this. If accidents caused by distracted driving are making travel somewhat more hazardous, doesn’t it make sense to buy safer cars to protect yourself from potential perpetrators? Who hasn’t seen the driver ahead of you or one coming the other way swerve across the center line or toward the shoulder while texting or messing with onboard electronics? So to protect yourself, what new cars get the best safety ratings for 2015?

Before we jump to the safety ratings of the most recent model year, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. It seems that auto manufacturers are beginning to treat their products as cell phones or computers around which a transport system is designed – think wide screen entertainment at 70 miles per hour. A good example is the enormous display screen in the pricey Tesla vehicles that appears to be larger than a tablet and comes complete with a touch qwerty board. That’s like putting a Lindt Truffle in front of a chocoholic.

Driverless cars (not that far off in the future) will one day feature all the electronics imaginable but until the vehicle owner becomes merely a passenger, tempting drivers to be distracted rather than focused on safety is just asking for trouble.

Now, to protect you and the others in your car, doesn’t it makes sense to consider those makes and models that have been tested and rated on the basis of safety?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) routinely takes new models of cars and runs them through punishing crash tests to determine how safe a driver and passengers will be in the event of crashes at the front end, side, rollovers and roof strength.

As they state on their web site “IIHS tests evaluate two aspects of safety: crashworthiness — how well a vehicle protects its occupants in a crash — and crash avoidance and mitigation — technology that can prevent a crash or lessen its severity.”

With the application safety technology, the steering and braking systems are becoming evermore sophisticated trying to keep us out of harm’s way. So which vehicles scored the best for passenger cars?

Among “minicars”, the Honda Fit earned a Top Safety Pick (TSP) based on its upgrade of the front bumper beam that reduced the degree of overlap when the vehicle was crashed.

The Suburu Impreza WRX also earned the TSP designation. According to, had this vehicle demonstrated collision avoidance capabilities, it could have been even higher in the top rated cars. As it is, the manufacturer’s Legacy and Outback models for this coming year nailed the top honor of TSP+. The web site article went on to say, “With more IIHS Top Safety Picks than any other auto brand, Subaru could claim the title as safest car company on the road, should it choose to do so.”

Hyundai put two vehicles among the top of the 2015 model year: the mid-sized Sonata and the luxury Genesis. Both vehicles are building on previous years’ high performance in the safety tests. The Genesis, however, was cited for its superior crash avoidance system. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration also conferred a five star rating for this brand’s outstanding performance.

Volkswagen also brought home TSP honors for its Passat while its Golf/GTI models earned the coveted TSP+ (plus), the highest designation for safety offered by the Institute.

The Chrysler 200 with a SafetyTec package that automatically avoids crashes earned the company a TSP+. Visibly absent from the article were vehicles manufactured by General motors and Ford. That may be because the full Institute list has not yet been released on this latest model year.

No matter what vehicle you choose in the months and years ahead, your choice should be informed not simply based on safety but by the absence of in-vehicle distractions. It’s hard enough avoiding other drivers who are distracted. None of us should be the reason another driver is placed in harm’s way. Here’s to happy and safe driving New Year!

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