Safety Feature Must Have #1

You need to consider several factors when evaluating a vehicle’s overall safety. They range from how it performs in an emergency-handling situation and how it protects its occupants in a collision to how easy it is to secure a child seat. When comparing vehicles, it’s important to look at all the appropriate variables, including safety-related ratings and features. For the next couple of days we will be listing the top 10 safety checks that worth reviewing before you make your final buying decision.

1. Insurance-industry crash-test ratings
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a safety-research group that conducts its own series of crash tests. In its frontal-offset crash, the IIHS runs a vehicle at 40 mph into a deformable barrier. Instead of engaging the whole width of the car’s front end, the barrier covers just the 40 percent of the car in front of the driver.

Using a deformable barrier simulates a car-to-car, driver’s-side-to-driver’s-side collision, which is a common form of fatal crash. By focusing the crash on only a portion of the car’s front, this test severely stresses the car’s structural integrity and its ability to protect the area around the driver without collapsing.

The IIHS scores its frontal-crash results as Good, Acceptable, Marginal, or Poor. You can find ratings for all tested vehicles on the IIHS Web site, at

Since 2002, the IIHS also has conducted its own side-impact tests, which simulate a vehicle being struck in the side at 31 mph by a vehicle the height and weight of a typical SUV or pickup. The test is more severe than the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s side-crash test (described below), which simulates a vehicle being hit in the side by a vehicle the height and weight of a typical family sedan.

For more information on crash testing and ratings click here.

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