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MIAMI (CBS) – As the holiday season gets into high gear, more Americans are expected to take to the roads than ever before.

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Close to 100 million will hit the highways and byways. If you’re one of them, there’s new information about which cars may be the safest choices for you and your family.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is out with its “Top Safety Picks” offering excellent crash protection.

Despite recent headlines about recalls and exploding airbags, researchers at the IIHS report crash protection is actually improving at a rapid rate. This year 71 cars received Top Safety Pick honors, nearly twice as many as last year.

“Cars, SUVs and pickup are safer than they’ve ever been before,” said IIHS president Adrian Lund.

GM and Ford did best among American models but trailed international brands overall.

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“They’re not putting in front crash protection systems as rapidly as these other manufacturers,” said Lund.

Toyota, Honda and Subaru led the pack when it came to “crash-worthiness.”

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Small overlap crashes, when a car’s front corner bangs into a fixed object or vehicle, have been a big safety hurdle for carmakers. This year Toyota won high marks for upgrades to address the problem.

The Subaru Outback, Acura MDX, Chrysler 200 and thirty other cars won the groups’ “Top Safety PLUS” crown for optimum collision protection plus additional automatic braking systems that help drivers avoid crashes altogether.

The IIHS is an independent nonprofit focused on reducing deaths, injuries and property damage from crashes on the nation’s roads.

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