South Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia Motors, and German auto mobile giant Volkswagen won more top safety pick awards than any other brands in 2010, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said on Thursday.

Automakers deserve credit for quickly rising to meet the more challenging criteria, said Adrian Lund, the insurance safety group's president. That gives consumers shopping for a safer new car or SUV plenty of choices to consider.

Hyundai/Kia and Volkswagen/Audi each have 9 winners for 2011, General Motors, Ford/Lincoln, and Toyota/Lexus/Scion has eight winners and Subaru has five awards for 2011, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said in a statement.

The insurance institute has recognized 66 vehicles for the top safety pick awards, which include 40 cars, 25 SUVs and a minivan. Last year only 27 vehicles qualified for the award.

In just a year, automakers have more than doubled the number of vehicles that meet the criteria for Top Safety Pick, Lund said.

Last year more than 12,000 people died in frontal crashes of passenger vehicles in the United States, more than 6,000 died in side impacts, and more than 8,000 died in rollovers, many of which also involved a front or side impact. Rear-end crashes usually aren't fatal but result in a large proportion of injuries. Neck sprain or strain is the most commonly reported injury in two-thirds of insurance claims for injuries in all kinds of crashes.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1.2 million lives are lost every year in road traffic accidents and only technology and safety measures has the potential to cut the accident rate by half.

Below is the list of safety picks for 2011 compiled by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:

LARGE CARS

  • Buick LaCrosse
  • Buick Regal
  • BMW 5 Series (except four-wheel drive and V-8)
  • Cadillac CTS sedan
  • Ford Taurus
  • Hyundai Genesis
  • Infiniti M (except M56x four-wheel drive)
  • Lincoln MKS
  • Mercedes E Class sedan
  • Mercedes E Class coupe
  • Toyota Avalon
  • Volvo S80

MIDSIZE CARS

  • Audi A3
  • Audi A4 sedan
  • Chevrolet Malibu
  • Chrysler 200 (four-door models)
  • Dodge Avenger
  • Ford Fusion
  • Hyundai Sonata
  • Kia Optima
  • Lincoln MKZ
  • Mercedes C Class
  • Subaru Legacy
  • Subaru Outback
  • Volkswagen Jetta sedan
  • Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen
  • Volvo C30

SMALL CARS

  • Chevrolet Cruze
  • Honda Civic (four-door models, except Si, with optional ESC)
  • Kia Forte sedan
  • Kia Soul
  • Mitsubishi Lancer sedan (except four-wheel drive)
  • Nissan Cube
  • Scion tC
  • Scion xB
  • Subaru Impreza (except WRX)
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Volkswagen Golf (four-door models)
  • Volkswagen GTI (four-door models)

MINICAR

  • Ford Fiesta (built after July 2010)

MINIVAN

  • Toyota Sienna

LARGE SUV

  • Volkswagen Touareg

MIDSIZE SUVs

  • Audi Q5
  • Cadillac SRX
  • Chevrolet Equinox
  • Dodge Journey
  • Ford Explorer
  • Ford Flex
  • GMC Terrain
  • Hyundai Santa Fe
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Kia Sorento (built after March 2010)
  • Lexus RX
  • Lincoln MKT
  • Mercedes GLK
  • Subaru Tribeca
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Toyota Venza
  • Volvo XC60
  • Volvo XC90

SMALL SUVs

  • Honda Element
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Jeep Patriot (with optional side torso air bags)
  • Kia Sportage
  • Subaru Forester
  • Volkswagen Tiguan