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The Surprising Technology Behind IIHS Crash Testing

IIHS crash testing is surprisingly high-tech and here are some details.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is the most respected crash and vehicle safety testing agency in America. We are all familiar with the images and video of the crash testing IIHS does, but the amazing part goes on behind the scenes and much of the magic is performed before the test starts.

Take the forward crash testing IIHS does for example. IIHS does two frontal crash tests. One of the things that makes an IIHS test result more impressive than a NHTSA test result is the higher speeds and reduced portion of the vehicle in the crash. These two things in combination make earning a Good score much harder on the two IIHS tests than the frontal test that NHTSA performs.

Before a frontal crash test is carried out a days-long process unfolds so that the data eventually collected is valid and comparable to other vehicles (video below). The preparation is intensive and impressive. For instance, IIHS must replace the gasoline in the vehicle for safety, but also so it can be seen if it leaks. IIHS uses a purple-dyed solvent with a higher flash point to achieve this. IIHS also does not drive the cars into the barriers Rather, they are pulled into the barrier powered by compressed nitrogen (image above).