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Crash tests lead to safety awards for large cars

Three full-sized vehicles popular among Oklahoma drivers have been awarded the highest rating for crashworthiness by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the auto safety organization financed by the car insurance industry. Receiving the Top Safety Pick Plus designation were the Lincoln Continental, Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan and the Toyota Avalon.

Other large cars didn't make the cut for the highest safety designation awarded by the organization, which conducts crash tests on SUVs, cars and trucks to demonstrate their response in an auto accident. The Tesla Model S, Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Impala did not receive the designation.

The Continental, Avalon and E-Class sedan all showed excellent airbag timing and seat belt strength, enabling them to win high ratings for safety in a potential crash. On the other hand, the Tesla, Taurus and Impala struggled with a crash test called the small overlap front test. Introduced in 2012, the test measures the ability of a car to handle a crash at the front driver's side corner. This kind of crash could result from a driver hitting a telephone pole or similar object. The Tesla struggled because its seat belt wasn't sufficiently strong, causing the crash test dummy used in the test to strike its head on the steering wheel in the simulated accident. For the Impala, the head of the dummy was also partially unprotected, while in the case of the Taurus, a human driver's lower left leg would be at risk of an injury.

Safety is critically important on the road. Every year, thousands of people suffer serious injuries as a result of auto accidents. When it can be established that the accident was caused by the negligence of another motorist, a lawyer might help a victim obtain compensation, either by a settlement with the at-fault driver's insurance company or through a personal injury lawsuit.

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