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IIHS crash testing yields unexpected results

West Virginia residents may be aware that the Tesla Model S full-sized sedan has been hailed as the safest car ever sold in the United States, but the luxury electric car was bettered by three of its traditionally powered competitors in a series of Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests. The IIHS, which conducts safety evaluations on behalf of auto manufacturers, tested six full-sized sedans, and the Tesla Model S was one of three that failed to make it onto the nonprofit organization's list of the safest cars available in America.

The Chevrolet Impala and the Ford Taurus also failed to earn a place on the prestigious IIHS safest cars list. All three of these full-sized sedans were denied a place on the list because they performed poorly in what the IIHS calls the small overlap front test. This is a test that replicates a collision between the front driver's side corner of a vehicle and an object such as a wall, a utility pole or a tree.

IIHS testers said that seat belts of a Tesla Model S would not be strong enough to properly restrain its driver in such a crash, and they criticized the Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Impala because their occupants could suffer leg or head injuries in a front-corner collision. The Toyota Avalon, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the Lincoln Continental all passed the small front overlap test, and they have been added to the IIHS list of America's safest vehicles.

In addition to protecting vehicle occupants in a crash, modern vehicle safety systems can provide data that is useful to law enforcement and personal injury attorneys representing car crash victims. These systems use a battery of sensors to monitor vehicle speeds and traffic conditions, and this information can be used in lawsuits to establish what occurred and the factors that may have played a role.

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