Passenger side safety tests

Passenger side safety tests. (WPEC)

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is out on its list of the safest vehicles. CBS 12's Teri Hornstein shows us why this year it’s a lot tougher to get top marks in this consumer alert.

Crash tests have long been a key element in how the insurance institute for highway safety rates vehicles.

Side-impact and hits to the front on the driver's side are analyzed. but this year the group added a new test: crashes to the front on the passenger side.

"We've been doing small overlap frontal crash tests on the driver's side since 2012 and we've seen a lot of improvement on that side but we weren't seeing that kind of for passengers," Adrian Lund, IIHS President.

Because of the more stringent standards, only 15 vehicles earned the group's highest award.

Hyundai, had six models make the list Subaru had four.

Standards for headlights are also higher.

"We rate headlamps because when we look at how they light up the road many of them aren't doing a very good job. The difference between a headlamp that rates as good as far as how far down the road you can see and one that we rate as poor, it literally is night and day and we think it's important that manufacturers improve how lamps light up the road because the most serious crashes happen at night," said Lund.

Vehicles that come with autobraking also earn high marks.

Automakers have pledged to make it a standard feature by 2022.

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