How to Improve Your Car Safety Rating
When shopping for a new car, it’s important to consider car safety ratings. These ratings indicate the likelihood of serious injury should a crash occur. They also help indicate the types of safety features that could prevent both major and minor accidents. The safer your vehicle, the safer you are as a driver. Consider, too, that the risk of accident and injury can impact your car insurance costs.
Every vehicle sold in the United States is given a safety rating. This rating is determined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), a federal government agency, and an independent agency funded by the insurance industry. Each group conducts a series of standard tests to determine which vehicles are best equipped to prevent significant damage and injury. Collectively, these ratings help indicate to car buyers which makes and models are the safest to drive.
For example, the NHTSA conducts accident avoidance tests (how easy it is for vehicles to avoid an obstacle given its braking and emergency capabilities), roof strength, rollover resistance, rear-impact protection, and rear blind zones. The NHTSA safety rating system operates on a 5-star scale, with 5 stars indicating the highest level of safety. The rating is made of up different score components: an overall score, frontal impact, side impact, and rollover resistance.
Vehicles with additional safety features like back-up cameras, forward collision warnings, and lane departure warning systems help increase this star rating as well.
Specifically, a 5-star rating means that a vehicle has less than a 10% chance of causing serious injury. A 4-start rating means it has less than 11-20% chance of causing serious injury; 3-stars is a 21-35% chance of serious injury; 2-stars is a 36-45% chance of serious injury; and 1-star is a 46% chance or more of serious injury.
At first glance, it can be tricky to tell in what specific ways a five-star safety rated vehicle is safer than a vehicle rated with four stars, because the rating reflects overall safety and not individual components of performance. Also note that these ratings are only comparative when between the same category of vehicle. So, a 4-star SUV can’t be compared to a 3-star sedan. It’s better to compare a 4-start SUV to a 3-star SUV.
The IIHS safety rating system looks for similar safety features, and evaluates vehicles for five different categories. Instead of stars, vehicles that perform well in each of the five categories receive the IIHS Top Safety Pick Designation. They conduct two frontal crash tests and one side impact crash test, along with rollover resistance and how well seats and head restraints protect people when a vehicle is hit from behind. Additionally, the IIHS will conduct a front crash prevention test.
To improve your car safety rating, become an informed buyer. You can look up every vehicle’s safety rating from Kelly Blue Book, the auto industry’s resource for essentially any and all information about every vehicle manufactured. You can also find breakdowns of safety ratings from Safecar.gov and Mototrend.com. You should also look for specific safety features that are on the cutting-edge of safety technology, like blind spot detection, automatic pedestrian breaking, and corrective steering. When shopping for a vehicle at a dealership, be upfront about your interest in suitable safety ratings, so that your salesperson can focus you on the vehicles that meet your criteria.
If you’re concerned about how a vehicle’s car safety rating could impact your car insurance, reach out to Schechner Lifson Corporation to talk with a trusted insurance professional.