Car Safety Testing

Even when the manufacturer is in full compliance, the NHTSA conducts tests that eventually lead to making a safe car even safer.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) www.iihs.org also tests car safety performance. A car's safety record has a bearing on the cost of insurance for that particular vehicle. When you own a safe auto, car insurance rates are typically lower.

The NHTSA publishes two free booklets each year that you can either access online at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/ncap/pages/ResourcesLinksBSC.htm or order from the website. One booklet portrays the safest cars involved in a frontal or side crash, and the other booklet portrays the safest cars as related to child safety seats and child safety.

At www.safercar.gov, which is also a part of the NHTSA, you can file a complaint, if you believe your car has a manufacturer's defect, and you can also check for recalls of vehicles, tires, or other vehicular equipment. In fact, you can often get recall information, before the manufacturer initiates the recall. You can also check the safety of certain vehicles on this website, which is especially helpful if you are considering purchasing a certain model and therefore interested in its safety record.

Safety should be as important or even more important as any other aspect you consider when purchasing a car. For a safe auto, car insurance rates are less likely to go up as fast as with an automobile that doesn't have a clean safety record.

How Cars Are Tested

Both the NHTSA and the IIHS adhere to rigid standards when crash-testing vehicles. They both use the same crash test dummy, the Hybrid III, and take care to simulate actual conditions when performing various tests. For example, the crash test dummies are equipped with sensors that tell the testing agency many different things about the impact of the crash, such as the speed of the oncoming vehicle and where on the body the dummy was hit, as well as other information.

Tests are performed that indicate exactly where a driver's head will go in a crash using both seatbelts and airbags. In one such test, the airbag deployed late, causing the dummy driver's head to hit the steering wheel at full impact. Before you purchase the car of your dreams, check to see if it has made the top 10 safe car ratings list.

Paint is applied to the dummy's face and other body parts to see exactly where the dummy's body goes during the crash. The agencies are able to measure slight injuries, as well as fatal injuries, with safety equipment in use and not in use. When considering a safe auto, car insurance rates shouldn't be the only motivation. The fact that in some vehicle crashes where the passengers, as well as the driver, are able to walk away, is due specifically to the safety features on the vehicle that absorbed the impact, instead of the impact being absorbed by the people in the vehicle.

The Making of a Safe Car

Approximately 40,000 people die annually in the United States from injuries sustained in car accidents.

Some car safety features are mandatory as regulated by the NHTSA, and the manufacturers voluntarily add others. Added car safety can be a valuable selling point, and some manufacturers want to take advantage of that and so the making of a safe car becomes an important priority.

Two major factors make up a car's eventual safety ranking. Prevention and how the car responds to an accident are the two most important factors when considering how safe a car is. If a vehicle is not in the top 10 safe car ratings, you would do well to ask why. It may be something as simple as the agency's recommendation that an optional safety feature be standard.

Seatbelts have long been a mandatory safety feature on cars and other passenger vehicles. Airbags are another common safety feature that lesson injuries by cushioning the passenger during a crash. According to the NHTSA, most cars on the road today are equipped with a fuel pump shut-off device that minimizes the risk of fire in the event of a collision.

All the above-mentioned safety devices are designed to prevent or lesson injuries once the crash has occurred. Are there safety devices in place that will prevent a crash from occurring in the first place? The answer is yes.

One of these devices can routinely be found on the more expensive cars; however, they may be purchased separately and installed on other cars, as well. Reverse backing or parking systems are sensors that will alert the driver to objects in his or her path when backing up. Although these are extremely helpful when backing out of a parking space, they offer the most safety protection when backing out of one's own driveway, where small children have been known to be injured or killed.

The testing of these vehicles over the years has resulted in the saving of countless lives and the improvement and implementation of safety features that continue to save lives. By choosing to purchase an automobile that is in the top 10 safe car ratings, you may just save a life – your own.

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