“The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is best known for their crash tests, and how they’ve pushed carmakers to build better, safer automobiles. But, now their focus is shifting from helping drivers survive a crash--to avoiding one in the first place.”

That was the message behind the recent unveiling of a major expansion of testing facilities at the Institute’s Ruckersville, Virginia campus. Besides inside crash testing labs, and an existing outdoor test track, IIHS has now added a new covered test track for year-round testing of crash avoidance technologies.

Designed to withstand a hurricane, the 115-foot, high-fabric dome is anchored by 18 concrete piers. At 700 feet long and 300 feet wide, it covers 5-acres of concrete, easily dwarfing the opening ceremony and its guests.

Also in attendance were members of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, who, in partnership with the Institute, announced a significant commitment by several automakers to make “Automatic Emergency Braking” standard equipment on all their cars. AEB automatically slows and stops a vehicle to prevent low-speed collisions. The 10 manufacturers represent 57% of the light duty cars and trucks sold here in the U.S. IIHS is a leading advocate for this life-saving technology and will be able to do year-round evaluations with the new domed track. IIHS also showed new autonomous driver test equipment that will allow comparative evaluations of new accident avoidance systems with scientific precision. 

“The IIHS also told us about the implementation of the new AEB test-- that we added to our “new car” evaluations last year. So, congrats to the Institute-- and thanks for incorporating “new” technology that makes us all safer on the roads. And that’s it for this week’s MotorNews.”