As many of you may know by now, the IIHS recently announcedits 2010 “Top Safety Picks”. What may have been eye opening and utterly surprising is that not a single BMW made the list. Not a one. The problem with such safety awards or best picks is that the general public tends to automatically assume that every vehicle that is not mentioned can be viewed as unsafe or not as safe as the ones given these accolades whether deservedly or not. In BMW ‘s case, this assumption is undeserved. The other interesting problem I have is with the way in which the IIHS releases its information, they never state the test pool and allow consumers and reporters to make conclusions based on on the list of “Top Safety Picks “ they provide something that is at its simplest form: poor reporting of results.

I not only drive BMWs for the sporty driving characteristics but the emphasis the brand places on safety. As I say to my wife regularly, “You drive the car you do because I know you will be safe and that is worth the price of admission alone. ” This IIHS announcement probably made some quiver but there is more to this than you think and BMWs are some of the safest vehicles on the road (still).

This year the IIHS surprised the automotive industry by announcing a new roof- crush test in which a metal plate is pushed against 1 side of a roof at a constant speed. To earn a good rating, the roof must withstand a force of 4 times the vehicle ‘s weight before reaching 5 inches of crush. This is called a strength-to-weight ratio. For an acceptable rating, the minimum required strength-to-weight ratio is 3.25. A marginal rating value is 2.5. Anything lower than that is poor. An acceptable rating on this test is a requirement to be a “Top Safety Pick “.

This static test, which has limited real world function unless your car is being crushed by a car crusher with you in it, is much the same as the government roof test but with higher requirements. BMW has never had an issue passing the government test and more than likely would have had no issue with this new test if any of the vehicles had been tested.

That is correct, not a single BMW was tested (yet) so they were automatically ineligible to qualify as a “Top Safety Pick. ”

All BMW models undergo stringent passive safety testing and are designed to perform well in all testing protocols that have been established. You can even thank some of the new front end designs on European pedestrian safety testing.While BMW takes these tests seriously, they also place a great emphasis on not only passing a test but making sure the vehicle will perform in real world dynamic situations that these tests (this roof test in particular) are designed to emulate.

The IIHS even states in a Status Report that, “[A] dynamic test using instrumented dummies would be the gold standard for assessing roof performance in rollovers.” BMW does this type of testing already as part of their own in-house crash testing and design. BMW will also be adding the new IIHS roof-crush test to its own testing protocol moving forward.

In short, current customers and future prospective buyers should know that BMW has already been designing vehicles with roof strength and rollovers in mind. It is unfortunate that BMWs were not tested before this announcement of the “Top Safety Picks ” were made as I am fairly certain BMW would be on the list. I know that both my wife and I have no doubts that our cars are as safe as they can be and hope you feel the same, as it helps one rest a bit easier knowing that your loved ones are safe behind the wheel.

BMWNA has provided us an official statement on the matter:

“Passive safety has always been a design priority for BMW, and BMW products have consistently performed well in both laboratory and real-world crashes. Because no 2010 BMW models were tested for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) new rollover rating, no BMW vehicles could qualify for the 2010 round of “Top Safety Picks.” Although no BMW models were tested for the IIHS’s new rollover rating, BMW’s normal testing protocol includes three separate types of rollover tests during product development. These tests simulate real-life circumstances, such as a vehicle striking a road divider, a vehicle leaving the road sideways, and a vehicle sliding down an embankment. As such, BMW is very confident in the passive rollover protection provided by its vehicles. “

For your viewing is the actual IIHS test on other vehicles as well as BMWs testing procedures on various models.

IIHS Roof Strength Testing:

BMW 2009 7 Series Crash test (with rollover)