IIHS: Top Safety Pick awards go to 71 vehicles for 2015 [Video]

The number of models earning top crashworthiness ratings has nearly doubled for the latest model year.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has reflected on a great year for vehicle safety, despite recalls dominating the headlines since February.

The organization awarded its top crashworthiness ratings -- Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ -- to a total of 71 vehicles from the 2015 model year, nearly doubling from the previous total of 39 models. The number of vehicles falling into the 'Plus' category has also increased to 11, despite tougher standards for front crash prevention.

"The quest for Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards is driving improvement in the small overlap front crash test and getting manufacturers to offer automatic braking technology on more and more vehicles," said IIHS president Adrian Lund.

Vehicles previously could fetch the 'Plus' designation by offering some form of forward-collision warning technology, however they must now offer automatic braking to earn top marks.

"Systems that don't require a driver response to avoid or mitigate a crash have the most potential for reducing crashes," Lund added.

The organization suggests automakers have been working to improve performance in the challenging small-overlap test, which goes above and beyond the federal government's crash evaluation program. Some models, such as the Toyota Prius v, received mid-cycle structural revisions to help ace the test after initially receiving poor ratings.

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