For single people who are buying a vehicle, price, looks, interior space, the car's ability to handle certain types of terrain, and how much it will cost them for repairs at an auto body shop are often the deciding factors. However, as soon as these people have children, a revolution occurs in their mind and suddenly their foremost concern is: how safe is this car? If you're thinking about getting a new car, vehicle safety ratings can help you decide which is safest for your family. Here's some more information about vehicle safety ratings.
Car crashes are the leading cause of trauma related deaths in many countries, so car companies, insurance companies, universities, and government agencies work together on studies and programs designed to reduce motor vehicle accidents. Vehicle safety rating programs are one such initiative. The theory behind it is that people are more likely to choose safer cars from the car dealer supply if they know which are safer, and this in turn will motivate automobile designers to include more safety features on future models.
There are three organizations in the United States which give car safety ratings: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA.gov, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or IIHS.org, and a non-profit group called Informed for Life. In Canada, Transport Canada has a National Safety Code (NSC) which does vehicle safety ratings. If you want to look up the safety ratings of the models you're considering before you leave your home for the dealership, you can visit their websites. The dealer should also be able to provide you with all the relevant ratings.
So how do these organizations rate cars? They run cars through a variety of tests to determine their success rates in active and passive safety. Active safety features are those which work to prevent a crash, such as adaptive headlights, traction control, tire pressure monitors, the anti-lock breaks you had installed or the reversing cameras that newer SUVs sport. Passive safety measures are those which work to protect people during a crash, such as crumple zones, air bags, seat belts, cargo barriers, and safety glass.
Crash testing is performed on each vehicle to determine its crash-worthiness, with experts being on hand to document each crash and scientists examining the articulated dummies for injures after the crash. Tests are done to simulate front, side, and rear crashes and their affects are measured on pregnant women, children and infants, and adult humans. Also factored into the rating is the car's reliability and the rate of instances of accidents. For more detailed results on each crash test, you can visit the website of the relevant testing organization.