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Auto Safety Ratings: Why They Matter

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Every car looks pretty safe while it’s freshly waxed and has that new car smell. But no two cars are alike when it comes to safety, no matter how nice a car looks or how many cool features it has.
 
While you’re shopping around for cars, one of the most important factors you’ll find in your research is a safety rating for each vehicle. The agencies responsible for issuing safety ratings are the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
 
The NHTSA uses a five-star system to indicate the chance of a serious head or chest injury in the event that the vehicle is involved in a head-on collision, with five stars indicating the smallest chance of an injury.
 
The IIHS ratting system uses the following letter system to provide a general overview of how the vehicle responds and performs in a collision.
 
G: Good
A: Acceptable
M: Marginal
P: Poor
 
The links above offer full explanations on how each agency rates and measures vehicles for safety. On the IIHS site, you can enter the make and model of a specific vehicle and read the vehicle’s full safety report. On the NHTSA’s site, www.safecar.gov, you can even search for any vehicle recalls.
 
Before buying any vehicle, you should always research the vehicle you’re interested in through both the IIHS and the NHTSA, and consider both agencies’ ratings. Each agency performs their tests differently and measures different safety factors.
 
Researching safety ratings is also important because cars that have lower safety ratings typically cost more to insure since the risk of personal injury is higher with lower rated cars. Many insurance companies even provide annual lists of the year’s safest cars, so be sure to check your insurance company’s website while you do your research.
 
Remember: when it comes to safety, no two cars are alike. Safety should always be the most important factor you consider when buying a vehicle. For more auto buying tips, be sure to check out http://carolinas.aaa.com/buyvehicles/Pages/Buy-Vehicles.aspx.

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