Auto safety ratings provide important information to consumers

Each year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration evaluate new car models for several indices of safety and assign them ratings. These ratings provide important information to consumers about the protection that different vehicles can provide in the event of a serious car accident. Understanding what these tests measure and how ratings are assigned can be important when deciding which car to purchase.

Ratings by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The IIHS performs a series of five tests to test a vehicle’s crashworthiness, that is, how well the vehicle protects its occupants in a car crash. Researchers assign each vehicle with a rating of good, acceptable, marginal or poor in each test according to its performance. The five tests performed are:

  • Moderate overlap front test: a head-on crash simulation designed to test a vehicle’s structural design and the protection provided by the occupant compartment
  • Small overlap front test: designed to test a vehicle’s design in a crash where the front corner of the vehicle collides with an object
  • Side test: tests the integrity of a vehicle when it is involved in a side crash
  • Rollover test: evaluates the strength of a vehicle’s roof in the event of a roll over crash
  • Rear test: tests how well the vehicle’s restraint and seat system works to prevent whiplash injuries

In addition, the IIHS takes special crash avoidance features, bumper safety evaluations and reported insurance losses into account when making their overall ratings. Vehicles can earn a Top Safety Pick+ ranking by receiving a good ranking in at least four of five tests, with no less than an acceptable ranking in the fifth test.

Ratings by the NHTSA

In 2010, the NHTSA implemented new, tougher tests intended to provide more information about vehicle safety than previous methods. Each car is evaluated and provided with a rating according to the NHTSA’s five star system. The NHTSA has long tested the safety of vehicles in front and side crashes and recently began testing vehicles’ rollover resistance. The new tests include:

  • Pole crash testing: designed to test a vehicle’s integrity when involved in a crash with a narrow, fixed object such as a telephone pole
  • Varying crash test dummy size: varying the size of the crash test dummy allows researchers to test how well a vehicle protects drivers and passengers of different heights and weights

Though safety ratings are important for consumers to consider when purchasing a vehicle, they are not a guarantee that you will not be injured if you are involved in a car accident. If you have suffered a serious injury in an accident caused by someone else, contact a personal injury attorney for information about your legal options.

Categories: