IIHS spokeswoman with dummy and crash test car - video screencap

It would be glib to say that safety equipment has had a huge influence on automobiles in the past 20 years. The result of cars being massively more safe than they were not long ago has made them bigger, heavier, more expensive, more challenging to develop, harder to fix and harder for emergency responders to deal with. That's just what it takes to try and keep people safe when they're wielding two-ton battle tanks in close quarters.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is one of the entities in the greyhound-and-rabbit jockeying that keeps pushing the bounds of safety. It uses its testing to confer the Top Safety Pick designation that carmakers seek and it launched the small overlap frontal crash test that tripped up a number of vehicles.

It has begun a video series demonstrating what it tests at its facility in Virginia and how, with its crash test dummies, it assesses the results. There are two videos so far, one detailing the front offset test, the other examining the specifics of the crash test dummies who do all the 'work.' There will be eight videos in total, with another released every Tuesday. You can watch the first two below. They're a short and fascinating six minutes of viewing.