In comparison testing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that drivers of vehicles rated "good" by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for driver's-side crashes were 70% less likely to die in an accident than those in vehicles with a designation of "poor."
In a statement, David Zuby, chief research officer for the Institute said, "This was our first look at how our ratings correlate with actual crash data since we started side tests in 2003, and the numbers confirm that these are meaningful ratings."
In 2009, 27 percent of deaths in passengers vehicles in the United States were due to side-impact crashes, according to the Institute's compilation of the NHTSA data. Approximately 78 percent of cars and trucks currently carry a "good" side-crash rating.
The Hyundai Accent, Chrysler Jeep Wrangler, Chevrolet Colorado crew cab, and GMC Canyon crew cab were among the models to be rated "poor." Both the Chevrolet Aveo and Caliber were among eleven models rated "marginal."
In an announcement last week, the U.S. Transportation Department said all new cars sold in the U.S. will be required to meet new minimum standards for protecting passengers from side-window ejection that occurs during rollovers. The standard, to be phased in, will apply to all vehicles beginning with the 2018 model year and will involve the use of stronger glass and side-curtain air bags.