How Safe Is Your Car? Here Are Some Quick Ways to Check
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Car and road safety will continue to improve as technology advances. Some car designs and features offer more protection than others, so examining your options is a good idea.
But what should you look for? Here are some ways to check how safe a car is, based on advice from CNET.
How does the NHTSA rating work?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is a government resource that provides car safety evaluations.
Their website can quickly give you information on your car based on comprehensive crash and road tests the NHTSA has performed. All you need to look up your car’s rating is the year, make, and model, which can be found on a window sticker, insurance card, or in your owner’s manual.
The NHTSA rates cars on a 5-star scale, with an overall rating based on their performance in frontal crash, side crash, and rollover tests. Each of these categories gets its own rating as well.
The organization also tests driver-assist features and safety equipment. They provide a helpful explanation of each test and what the ratings mean. When looking at the ratings, you should keep in mind that some results aren’t comparable across all classes and weights. For example, a frontal crash rating considers a crash between two vehicles with the same weight.
Not all vehicles are tested; the NHTSA specifically focuses on mass-produced vehicles that will be available in America. If your car doesn’t fit this category, you might want to check out the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) website.
What’s the difference between the IIHS and NHTSA ratings?
The IIHS is another way to check your car’s safety rating. Their scoring is a bit more comprehensive than the NHTSA and they test some models that the NHTSA doesn’t. These results can offer further insight into your car’s safety.
Their website is very similar to the NHTSA’s, and you can use the same basic vehicle information to look up safety ratings. The IIHS assesses cars in six ways, which includes inspecting headlights, emergency braking, roof protection, and active safety equipment.
These inspections help evaluate crashworthiness (how well cars protect during a crash) or crash avoidance and mitigation (technology that could decrease the likelihood or severity of a crash).
Other ways to check your car safety
Consumer Reports (CR) is another reliable way to learn more about a vehicle. CR is a nonprofit company that tests and reviews a variety of products, including cars. Their car reviews are based on road-test scores, predicted reliability, and predicted owner satisfaction.
CR focuses on overall car quality, but they sometimes list NHTSA and IIHS ratings. They also provide a list of recalls that have been issued for certain makes and models, which can help augment other safety findings.
You can also use the automakers’ websites. The manufacturer might have done their own investigation on the safety of their models and listed the findings on their website. However, this might not be the most reliable resource to turn to. Brands will be looking to sell their cars, so they may leave out or gloss over information that more impartial sources won’t.
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