The all-new 2013 Ford Fusion was recently awarded the coveted Top Safety Pick for 2012 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Additional safety features in the 2013 model helped it to become a Top Safety Pick. The new Fusion features a Personal Safety System, providing additional safety features, including new safety belt technologies and a total of eight airbags that protect all occupants in the vehicle. In addition, Ford also added redesigned seat-mounted side airbags with venting technology, providing extra protection in the event of side crash.

For a vehicle to receive a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS, it must receive a rating of "good" on the following segments: offset frontal impact, side impact, dynamic head restraint and roof strength testing.

Steve Kenner, global director of the Automotive Safety Office, said the new Fusion is an example of the company's commitment to high safety standards. He added that Ford is proud the IIHS has recognized their efforts in improved safety.

Automotive News reported data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, indicating U.S. traffic fatalities have increased by 9 percent in the first six months of 2012 compared to the same period of time in 2011. From January to June, a total of 16,290 people have died in road accidents. The source reported that although the data has not been officially verified, it would account for the highest number of deaths in the first six months of any year since 2009. The NHTSA has not issued a reason as to why the numbers are increasing.

With fatalities up, safer cars are increasingly important. The IIHS issued Top Safety Pick awards to the 2013 Dodge Dart, Lexus ES, Hyundai Santa Fe and Subaru XV Crosstrek last month. Subaru is the only automaker, for the third year in a row, to have all of its model on sale in the U.S. featured on the IIHS Top Safety Pick list.

"The XV Crosstrek may cut weight and size compared to the competition, but it doesn't cut corners when it comes to safety," said Lonnie Poffenberger, sales manager of Gentile Subaru in Wisconsin. "Also, unlike many other compact crossovers, it has legitimate all-conditions capability because of its all-wheel-drive system and raised ground clearance, so passengers are protected from the weather as well as potential collisions."

Auto owners are also encouraged to have brakes checked and other services conducted on their vehicles to ensure they are as safe as possible.