The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) was organized by US insurers 50 years ago. To celebrate this aniversary and to demonstrate how car crashworthiness has improved during those 50 years IIHS conducted car test between a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air and a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu. In a real-world collision similar to this test, occupants of the new model would fare much better than in the vintage Chevy.
In this crash test the 2009 Malibu’s occupant compartment remained intact while the one in the 1959 Bel Air collapsed. The dummy in the Malibu suffered only minor leg injuries while the dummy in the Bel Air would have died instantly.
About the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Beginning with the Institute’s 1959 founding, insurers have maintained the resolve, articulated in the 1950s, to “conduct, sponsor, and encourage programs designed to aid in the conservation and preservation of life and property from the hazards of highway accidents.”
A decade after the Institute was founded, insurers directed this organization to begin collecting data on crashes and the cost of repairing vehicles damaged in crashes. To lead this work and the Institute’s expanded research program, insurers named a new president, William Haddon Jr., who already was a pioneer in the field of highway safety. The scientific approach, ushered in by Dr. Haddon, was a hallmark of Institute work. It’s why the Institute launched the Highway Loss Data Institute in 1972 — to collect and analyze insurance loss results to provide consumers with model-by-model comparisons.
Another Institute milestone was the 1992 opening of the Vehicle Research Center. Since then, the Institute has conducted much of the research that has contributed to safer vehicles on US roads.