Virginia residents may have heard Tesla CEO Elon Musk's comments about the safety features of his company's flagship Model S sedan. Musk said that it is the safest car in history, but that was not the conclusion of crash testers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The nonprofit organization recently put six full-sized sedans through a series of scientifically designed accident tests, and the Tesla Model S was one of three that failed to earn a place on its list of the safest vehicles available in America.
The Tesla Model S, the Ford Taurus and the Chevrolet Impala all failed to earn a place on the coveted IIHS safest list because they performed poorly during the small overlap front test. The IIHS conducts tests that replicate real-world driving situations, and the small overlap front test causes the kind of damage that vehicles sustain when their front driver's side corners strike objects like walls, utility poles or trees.
IIHS testers noticed that the seat belts in the Tesla Model S failed to properly restrain the dummy during the small overlap front test. The Ford and Chevrolet's seat belts were more effective, but the IIHS testers concluded that the occupants of these vehicles could suffer leg or head injuries in this type of accident. The Lincoln Continental, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the Toyota Avalon all earned the top safety rating.
While advanced safety systems may offer some protection in a crash, they are as yet unable to completely remove the specter of human error from the nation's roads. Distracted, drunk or reckless drivers kill or injure thousands of road users every year, and personal injury attorneys may seek to hold them accountable by initiating litigation against them on behalf of their clients who have been harmed.