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Florida residents have likely heard about the impressive safety features fitted to Tesla's range-topping Model S. The luxury sedan has been called the safest car to ever go on sale in the United States, but it failed to impress testers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety when it was put through its paces in a series of grueling accident simulations. The IIHS evaluated six full-sized sedans, and the Tesla Model S was one of three that failed to earn a coveted place on the nonprofit organization's safest cars list.

The Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Impala also failed to win a place on the list of the safest cars sold in America. The IIHS says that the shortcomings of all three cars were exposed during what the organization refers to as the small overlap front test. This test simulates the kind of damage caused when the front driver's side corner of a vehicle strikes an object such as a utility pole or tree.

The Tesla performed poorly in the test because its seat belts are apparently not strong enough to provide adequate driver protection in this kind of collision. While the seat belts fitted to the Ford and Chevrolet performed better, the two American sedans still failed to pass the test. The test data suggests that the occupants of the Ford and Chevrolet could suffer serious head or leg injuries in car crashes similar to the small overlap front test.

In addition to an array of passive safety features like seat belts and collapsible steering columns, vehicles like the Tesla Model S sedan are fitted with a range of active and often autonomous safety systems. These systems collect data using strategically mounted sensors and radar, and this information can be used by vehicles to avoid crashes and by attorneys to hold negligent motorists accountable for their actions. The data found on automotive black boxes could reveal how fast vehicles were traveling when accidents occurred and whether or not any evasive action was taken.

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