Safety should be a key consideration if you are shopping to replace your car, especially if you have a family.
There are two rating systems used to compare vehicle safety:
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
They use four tests:
- Frontal crash test
- Side carrier crash test
- Side pole crash test
- Rollover resistance test
The NHTSA is government-funded and rates vehicles from one star (least safe) to five stars (most safe) for each test. It then collates those into an overall safety score.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
They also use four tests:
- Driver-side small overlap front test
- Passenger-side small overlap front test
- Moderate overlap front test
- Side test
The IIHS is funded by insurance companies and scores vehicles as poor, acceptable, marginal or good on each test. It does not give an overall safety score.
You should look at both sets of results
Most of the above simulate crashes and measure the effect on the dummies strapped inside the vehicles. The exception is the NHTSA rollover resistance test which measures how likely a vehicle is to roll over during a harsh maneuver.
The IIHS has recently started testing a few additional things, including the effectiveness of headlights and restraint systems and the frontal avoidance system’s ability to avoid collisions with pedestrians. It’s best to look at both sets of results for a more rounded opinion.
If you are injured in a crash and need to replace your car, getting legal help will increase the chance you get enough money to buy a safer model and cover all your injury-related expenses.