The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has added the 2011 Dodge Durango to its list of top safety picks after the manufacturer ironed out some issues with the vehicle’s side airbags.
The midsize SUV joins more than 70 vehicles touted this year as among the most crashworthy on the road after the manufacturer modified the vehicle’s airbags to beef up protection in side impact crashes. The IIHS accolade applies to Durangos made after May 2011, which include that improvement.
Driving a safe vehicle can not only reduce the risk of being injured or even killed in an accident, experts say—it can also help motorists qualify for the best priced auto insurance
for policies that cover medical costs of the insured driver.
Vehicles earn the title of top safety pick by exceeding federal safety standards and standing out on IIHS crash tests.
The Institute issues ratings of good, acceptable, marginal or poor based on performance in high-speed front and side crash tests, a rollover test and evaluations of seat and head restraints for protection against neck injuries resulting from rear impacts.
A vehicle’s performance on those tests can have serious implications in the real world.
Only 3 percent of the nearly 11 million crashes in 2002 were rollovers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). But rollovers caused about 10,000 deaths that year, nearly one-third of all fatalities in passenger vehicle crashes, NHTSA reported.
The Durango earned a “good” rating for front and rear crash protection and inside and roof strength tests, according to IIHS, a nonprofit organization that studies ways to reduce fatalities, injuries and property damage on the nation’s roads.
Some insurance companies offer discounts to owners of vehicles that are outfitted with safety features, but coverage providers probably won’t lower premiums for a car just because it is an IIHS safety pick, industry officials have said.
But vehicles with established track records of protecting drivers and lower-than-average injury and damage claims costs could be considered a smaller risk to insure, and insurers may set lower premiums as a result.