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NEW YORK (CBSMiami) – Crash tests have long been a key element in how the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates vehicles.

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This year the IIHS is making the criteria more difficult for automakers to earn a top score.

In years past, side impact and hits to the front on the driver’s side have been analyzed. This year the group added a new test – crashes to the front on the passenger side.

“We’ve been doing small overlap frontal crash tests on the driver’s side since 2012 and we’ve seen a lot of improvement on that side but we weren’t seeing that kind of for passengers,” said IIHS President Adrian Lund.

Fifteen vehicles earned the group’s highest award for Top Safety Pick Plus. No minivans or pickup trucks received a Top Safety Pick Plus award.

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Click Here For Top Safety Pick Plus Winners

The number was actually down from last year and the new crash tests were not the only reason why. The IIHS has also raised its standards for headlights.

“We rate headlamps because when we look at how they light up the road many of them aren’t doing a very good job,” said Lund. “The difference between a headlamp that rates as good as far as how far down the road you can see and one that we rate as poor, it literally is night and day. We think it’s important that manufacturers improve how lamps light up the road because the most serious crashes happen at night.”

Vehicles that come with auto-braking also earn high marks. Automakers have pledged to make it a standard feature by 2022.

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Lund believes with even more improvements in crash test performance and headlights, vehicles will be even safer down the road.