The Insurance Institute for The Highway Safety’s (IIHS) Vehicle Research Center (VRC) has started its crash testing again after being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

IIHS closed both the VRC, located in Ruckersville, Virginia, and its Arlington, Virginia, office in March, as the state was shutting down. Much of the IIHS’s work continued, with employees working from home, but crash tests and track evaluations had to be paused.

“We’re following the same rigorous protocols as we always do for our crash tests, plus some important new ones,” said IIHS Chief Administrative Officer Joe Nolan. “The only employees around for the crash tests are those who absolutely need to be there, and, of course, there are no visitors observing the action.”

In addition to crash testing, evaluations of headlights and front crash prevention systems — both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian — have also resumed.

Before the pandemic, IIHS had informed automakers that it was developing an evaluation of rear-passenger protection in frontal crashes, an updated side crash test and a seat-belt reminder rating. Those new evaluations were supposed to be added to the Institute’s awards criteria for 2022. The target year for those changes to the awards program has now been changed to 2023, and the Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ criteria for 2022 will remain the same as for 2021 and 2020.