Regular readers of our Tampa Personal Injury Blog are likely familiar with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The nonprofit research organization each year tests new vehicles and then issues safety ratings. This year, the IIHS recognized a record 90 vehicles – up from 64 last year – for being equipped with safety tech that can keep a driver and passengers safer in a violent motor vehicle crash.
The organization lauded the Hyundai Motor Group (the Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands) for earning the most safety awards overall. The IIHS bestowed its highest rating – known as the Top Safety Pick+ – to the South Korean company’s first luxury SUV, the 2021 Genesis GV80.
The midsized SUV received the highest possible rating in a half-dozen crashworthiness tests:
- Small overlap front: driver side (a test that replicates front left corner collisions)
- Small overlap front: passenger side (a test that replicates front right corner collisions)
- Moderate overlap front (a test that replicates a frontal collision between two vehicles of the same weight at just under 40 mph)
- Roof strength
- Head restraints and seats
While the elite safety rating didn’t generate a ton of press coverage, the vehicle itself was part of headlines around the world when golfer Tiger Woods was in a high-speed crash while driving a Genesis GV80 in a Los Angeles suburb.
A miracle survival?
Woods was reportedly driving more than 40 mph over the posted 45 mph speed limit on the curvy street when the Genesis struck a sign, crossed a divider, hit a tree at about 75 mph and went airborne, then rolled over several times before coming to a stop on its side.
It seemed a miracle to many that the golf legend survived the severe high-speed crash. But perhaps modern safety technology deserves more of Woods’ gratitude than divine intervention.
The vehicle is equipped with 10 airbags, including in front of the driver and front passenger and one in between the driver and passenger, as well as side curtain airbags.
Keeping the head safe
The IIHS said of its crash tests of the SUV that the airbags “worked well together to keep the head from coming close to any stiff structure or outside objects that could cause injury.”
An InsideHook article notes that the Genesis is constructed to absorb much of the force of a crash in its exterior body, which left the interiors of the crash-test vehicles and the SUV Woods crashed relatively intact.
Bigger, heavier is better
Another factor in Woods’s favor: SUVs are safer than cars in crashes. The bigger, heavier vehicles “are offering their occupants better protection than cars,” said David Zuby, executive vice president and chief research officer at IIHS.
If safety were the only consideration in the purchase of a vehicle, everyone would drive an SUV. But there are, of course, other calculations in play, including price, carbon footprint (gas mileage is substantially worse in SUVs compared to most cars), styling and so on.
It should be noted that 16 small cars received the Top Safety Pick+ rating from IIHS and so did 9 midsize cars. All are equipped with safety tech of the sort that saved Tiger – and could save you and your passengers as well.