CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: What We Are Doing to Protect Our Clients

Vehicle Crash Tests Resume Following COVID-19 Closures

IIHS Resumes Crash Tests Following Months of Shutdown

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) resumed work earlier this month that had previously been on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Institute’s Vehicle Research Center (VRC), which is located in Virginia, closed in March when the state enacted pandemic restrictions.  Employees continued to work remotely, but track evaluations and crash tests were temporarily ceased.  

In May, the state of Virginia started a phased reopening. IIHS adhered to the Virginia guidelines, which required improvements to the VCR before the facility could reopen.  In mid-June, a skeleton crew was able to return to the VCR.  The first vehicle crash test since March was performed the week of June 15, when a Chrysler Pacifica (minivan) containing three unbelted dummies struck a wall at a speed of 35 mph.  

Watch the YouTube video of a crash test conducted prior to the March shutdown.

Many Changes Made to Protect Employees

Attendance at the crash tests is limited to only the employees that are essential to the process.  Visitors are no longer allowed to observe. The employees that are required to work on-site are divided into two teams and work alternating weeks.  Some of the other safety protocols adopted by the IIHS:

  • Unless isolated within an office or vehicle, every employee at VRC must wear a mask. 
  • If employees must be within six feet of each other, they are required to also wear face shields.
  • There is a rigorous daily cleaning protocol.
  • All vehicles dropped off at VRC are parked and left alone for two days.
  • If a delivered vehicle is needed before two days pass, it is sanitized by increasing the interior temperature to 130 degrees (F) for 20 minutes or 150 degrees for 5 minutes.  A similar method was developed by Ford for use by the police. Ford uses special software, while IIHS uses sunlight combined with the vehicle’s heater and any necessary auxiliary heaters in order to reach the interior car temperature levels to ensure proper sanitization.
  • The VRC building’s HVAC settings have been adjusted to increase fresh air intake, and within some closed-off areas, they have installed HEPA filters.  In areas including the crash hall, the doors are kept open and exhaust fans operate regularly.

Testing Data Published During Shutdown

During the months that the crash tests were paused, VRC staff continued to publish the safety ratings that are relied upon by consumers.  Many of the ratings are established by crash tests performed by the auto manufacturers. Telecommuting employees that were involved in the crash test publishing continued to review videos and documentation just as they had been when working in the office. 30+ ratings were completed during the shutdown.

Other Evaluations Have Resumed – But New Criteria Delayed

Along with crash tests, the IIHS has also resumed evaluations of front crash prevention systems and headlights. Those evaluations are limited to one employee per car, which eliminates the need for sanitization between tests.

Some of the new crash tests that IIHS had intended to implement have been delayed due to the VRC closure.  The IIHS had been developing a test to evaluate the protection of rear passengers in front crashes, as well as an updated side crash test.  The new evaluations had been on track to be added to the 2022 Safety Pick criteria.  That has now been pushed to 2023.  Accordingly, the 2022 TOP SAFETY PICK criteria will be the same as it was for 2020 and 2021.

Sacramento Auto Accident Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, an auto accident lawyer in Sacramento, California.  No matter how safe are vehicles are, the impact of a collision can result in significant injuries to the vehicle occupants.  If you or a loved one were injured in an accident caused by a negligent driver, I can offer free and friendly advice.  Call us at (916) 921-6400 or if you are out of the local area (800) 404-5400.  Or contact me online.

Since 1982, I have worked on behalf of injured Sacramentans.

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