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Demystifying vehicle safety ratings

On Behalf of | Jul 28, 2021 | Car Accidents

It seems there is no end to the ways developers can make vehicles safer. A mission that started with simple features like brakes and seatbelts has turned into its own sector of the automotive industry.

Now there are simplified stars and other ratings that make it simple to compare how safe one vehicle is over another. However, you as the consumer may still be confused about what allows one car a higher rating over another, and whether your current vehicle is safe enough.

Here’s what you should know about what goes into car safety ratings.

Stars for cars?

The basics of the star method are relatively straightforward: more stars mean a safer car, and the ratings go up to five. Aside from the basics, however, many auto shoppers do not know what goes into the star ratings. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rates cars in the following crash scenarios:

  • Front-end crashes
  • Side crash from an oncoming vehicle
  • Side impact from poles
  • Rollover crashes

The NHTSA ratings also look at driver-assisted technologies, like lane departure warnings and other safety equipment, such as airbags. Very simply, vehicles that do well in all of the categories receive a higher safety rating.

Help from dummies

The NHTSA started testing vehicles in the 1970s with the introduction of crash test dummies. Over the years, these human models have evolved and now collect significant data in crash tests.

As analysts review data from crash tests, they conclude how safe the vehicle would be in an actual crash.

While it is not always realistic to trade in your car for the latest in automotive safety, these safety ratings can help you make an informed decision about your next vehicle.


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