New cars withstand crashes better than ever, yet U.S. traffic fatalities hit a 20-year high in the first half of 2022. Such contradictory data helps explain why the IIHS has toughened its safety criteria for the automotive industry’s most stringent independent crash tests as more automakers excelled in testing. 

“We’re challenging automakers to build on the safety gains they’ve already achieved,” IIHS President David Harkey said in a statement regarding the insurance-industry funded’s annual list of Top Safety Pick+ and Top Safety Pick award winners. 

Last year at this time, 101 vehicles earned one of the two 2022 Top Safety Pick awards. This year, only 48 vehicles have qualified under the new criteria meant to reflect heavier vehicles such as SUVs traveling at higher speeds and driver-assist technology that mitigates or avoids collisions with pedestrians at night.

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