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IIHS crash tests cast doubt on Tesla Model S safety claims

Electric cars made by manufacturers like Chevrolet and Tesla are becoming an increasingly common sight in Kentucky, and they are often purchased for their safety features as well as their low running costs. Tesla has referred to its top-of-the-line Model S sedan as the safest car ever made, but that was not the opinion held by researchers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety after the non-profit organization submitted it to a series of grueling accident reconstruction tests.

The IIHS put six American, German and Japanese full-sized sedans to the test, and the Tesla Model S was one of three that were not subsequently awarded a place on its list of America's safest cars, SUVs and pickup trucks. The Chevrolet Impala and the Ford Taurus also failed to earn a place on the coveted list. The Toyota Avalon, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the Lincoln Continental performed well during the IIHS testing and have been added to the organization's safest vehicles list.

The Ford, Chevrolet and Tesla all failed to impress during what the IIHS refers to as the small overlap front test. This test reconstructs an accident scenario where the front driver's side corner of a vehicle strikes an object like a road sign, utility pole or tree. IIHS testers say that the Tesla failed the test because its seat belts were not strong enough to keep the crash test dummy safely secured. The Ford and Chevrolet were criticized because analysis of the test dummy suggests that human occupants could suffer potentially serious injuries in this type of crash.

In addition to helping auto manufacturers to build safer vehicles, the crash tests conducted by groups such as the IIHS can also provide experienced personal injury attorneys with useful evidence in car accident lawsuits. These tests are often conducted at different speeds so that levels of damage can be compared, and this data may be used by attorneys to establish how fast reckless motorists were traveling when they crashed.

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