Nine compact SUVs have fared well in the new IIHS pedestrian safety test.

Nine compact SUVs have fared well in the new IIHS pedestrian safety test.

Photo courtesy of IIHS.

Nine out of 11 compact SUVs evaluated captured an advanced or superior rating from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) for automatic emergency braking systems that prevent pedestrian collisions.

The 11 SUVs were the first 2018 to 2019 vehicles to undergo this newly-introduced crash test, which marks the fourth crash avoidance evaluation in the IIHS's battery of safety tests.  

Four of the SUVs earned the highest rating of superior. These include the 2018 to 2019 Honda CR-V, 2019 Subaru Forester, 2019 Toyota RAV4 and 2019 Volvo XC40. Another five models garnered an advanced rating. These include the 2019 Chevrolet Equinox, 2018 to 2019 Hyundai Kona, 2019 Kia Sportage, 2018 to 2019 Mazda CX-5 and 2019 Nissan Rogue. 

However, two models failed to meet IIHS's safety standards when it comes detecting and braking for folks on foot.

The 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander scored just a basic rating, while the 2018–19 BMW X1 didn't receive any credit for a rating.  Perhaps this is due to the fact that the X1, which comes with BMW's Daytime Pedestrian Detection system, didn't brake at all in the 37 mph parallel adult test, sending the dummy airborne. In the other tests, the luxury SUV didn't slow in time to avoid hitting the dummies.

IHS engineers designed tests that address three common pedestrian scenarios. There are two adult pedestrian tests. One is the most common type of pedestrian crash and involves an adult pedestrian on the right side of the road entering the street in the path of an oncoming vehicle. The other test scenario replicates an adult walking in the vehicle's travel lane near the edge of the road. The adult's back is turned away from traffic.

Finally, there is what the Institute regards as the most difficult test — the perpendicular child scenario. It involves a child pedestrian running across a street from behind two vehicles parked on the right side of the vehicle's path, with a potential impact location on its front end at the center line. There is no clear sight line for cameras or the driver until the dummy emerges in the path of the vehicle.

Tests are conducted at 12 mph and 25 mph in the perpendicular adult and child scenarios, and at 25 mph and 37 mph in the parallel adult scenario.

The IIHS notes that the four superior-rated and five advanced-rated SUVs had significant speed reductions in every scenario — meaning they almost avoided and, in some cases, did avoid striking the pedestrian dummies.

However, only the Forester and RAV4 avoided hitting the dummies in every perpendicular test. The XC40 avoided the adult dummy in the 12 mph and 25 mph tests and avoided the child dummy in the 12 mph test.

The Outlander's autobrake system mitigated its speed by about 19 mph in the 25 mph parallel adult test and by 11 mph in the 12 mph perpendicular child test. The Outlander managed only minimal speed reductions in the other tests.

Finally, the CR-V and Forester were the only small SUVs in the group to earn credit for their system's ability to issue a warning — greater than or equal to 2.1 seconds time-to-collision — in the parallel adult test before automatically braking to mitigate the impact with the dummy.

In 2017, 5,977 pedestrians died in crashes in the U.S., down 2% from 2016, which marked the most deaths since 1990.

A 2011 IIHS analysis of 2005 to 2009 crash data estimated that pedestrian detection systems could potentially mitigate or prevent up to 65% of single-vehicle crashes with pedestrians in the three most common crash configurations and 58% of pedestrian deaths in these crashes if all vehicles were equipped with the systems.