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More vehicles earning top insurance industry safety ratings

December 15, 2011 | 10:08 am

The 2012 Camry earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's top safety pick award after a redesign.
With each new model year, cars continue to improve their safety ratings.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said 115 of the 2012 vehicles tested earned its “Top Safety Pick” rating.

Even the base models of 2012 vehicles are now required to have antilock brakes, electronic stability control, tire pressure sensor monitors and multiple airbags. More expensive vehicles have extra features such as backup cameras and blind-spot warning lights and alerts.

This is happening as traffic deaths are falling.

Traffic deaths in 2010 fell to their lowest levels in more than 60 years, according the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Toyota Motor Corp. had 15 vehicles on the insurance industry group’s list, including models from its Lexus and Scion divisions. 

The Camry, which is consistently one of the best selling passenger cars in America, made the list for the first time after Toyota upgraded the redesigned 2012 model's seat/head restraint design for rear impact protection, the group said. 

General Motors Co. was a close second with 14 models from its Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC brands.

Honda Motor Co. was the most improved automaker. It upgraded the roofs on several of its models and placed 10 of its Honda and Acura brand vehicles on the list.

The institute said that 69 cars, 38 sport-utilities,  five minivans and three pickups earned its top pick, which is based on a vehicle's ability to protect people in front, side, rollover, and rear-end crashes.

Every major automaker had at least one winner. Subaru was the only manufacturer with a top pick for every model it builds.

The industry has been gradually improving vehicle safety. 

Federal safety officials said highway deaths fell to 32,885 in 2010. It was the lowest total since 1949.


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Photo: Improvements in the 2012 Toyota Camry earned the car an insurance industry safety award. Credit: Toyota Motor Corp.