What Is a Car’s Safety Rating?

Washington DC Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Help Those Injured by Unsafe or Negligent Drivers.

There are many things to look for when purchasing a new car, but for yourself and your family, none should be more important than safety. In the United States, there are two organizations that help shoppers determine which new car carries the best safety ratings: the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, their safety rating systems are determined differently from each other.

Although modern vehicles are built similarly and share many of the same features, each brand and model may test differently when an accident occurs. Both the IIHS and the NHTSA utilize their rating systems to see how each vehicle reacts in the event of an accident. With as many as six million car accidents in the United States every year, both institutions hope to promote vehicle safety with rating systems that help minimize the damage a car accident causes, as well as prevent them from occurring at all.

How Does the IIHS Determine Their Safety Ratings?

The IIHS is a non-profit organization, solely funded from insurance companies. The IIHS takes a vehicle and applies several sensors, sends the vehicle through different tests, and then analyzes their findings. They use crash test dummies with sensors on different parts of the body, as well as sensors and cameras for the inside of the vehicle.

The IIHS also measures the vehicle’s so-called survival space, which is the amount of space in the vehicle after the collision. Video footage of seat belt and airbag deployment is also used in the IIHS safety ratings. Finally, they use six different crash tests, which include:

  • Three frontal crash tests. One moderate frontal impact and two small impacts on both driver side and passenger side.
  • Side impact crash test. Impact with an SUV or pickup truck.
  • Roof strength test. Tests when the vehicle rolls over and if the car crushes fewer than 5 inches.
  • Whiplash test. Measures the impact of a rear-end collision and its effects on a passenger’s neck and spine.

The results are given four ratings based on performance: Poor, Marginal, Acceptable, and Good. Each year, the criteria changes for the awards Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick Plus, which are then given to any vehicle that qualifies.

How Does the NHTSA Determine Their Safety Ratings?

Different from the IIHS’ safety system, the NHTSA offer ratings ranging from one to five stars depending on their performance. The vehicles they test go through:

  • A 35-mph frontal impact test, where high-speed cameras monitor the event and testers review the footage.
  • A 35-mph side impact test, similar to the frontal test.
  • Rollover tests to determine roof and crush safety.

However, the NHTSA crash test is seen as dissimilar to the real world, as they only use a sled and wall during their tests. Alternatively, the IIHS use more realistic means for their crash tests. Finally, both the IIHS and NHTSA study what passenger protection systems are in each vehicle and how they perform in an event of an accident, as well as their performance in preventing an accident, such as a rear-view camera or lane-departure warning system.

To review the NHTSA and IIHS safety ratings for your own vehicle, you can log into their respective websites and input the year, make, and model of the vehicle you are inquiring about. It is best to use one site and then make sure the other site shares the same findings in order to make the best decision which car is best for you and your family.

Washington DC Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Help Those Injured by Unsafe or Negligent Drivers

Even with the safest vehicle, accidents still occur, and mostly because of human error. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, reach out to the Washington DC car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King. Our experienced team will investigate the cause of the accident and will fight to get the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 202-331-1963 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Washington, DC, we work with car accident victims in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, and Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.