Car safety ratings should be a major consideration when you are in the market to buy a new or used car. Vehicle safety ratings issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) provide critical information that can help you make a well-informed buying decision.
Both NHTSA and IIHS base their ratings for occupant protection on a variety of crash tests, and the use of systems that help prevent collisions. For any given safety rating test, scoring differences can be significant. For example, based on a decade of side impact crash test data, the IIHS says the driver of a vehicle rated “good” is 70 percent less likely to die in that type of collision than the driver of a vehicle rated “poor.” Which one would you rather drive?
According to NHTSA, more than 37,000 people died in vehicle crashes in 2017. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say vehicle collisions send more than 2.3 million individuals to hospital emergency rooms each year. Government regulations and vehicle rating programs that improve crash protection and enable consumers to assess the safety of individual car models can help reduce these totals.
5-Star Safety Ratings and Top Safety Pick
NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program awards 5-Star Safety Ratings, and the IIHS program awards Top Safety Pick ratings.
Automakers take these safety-rating programs very seriously and work hard to design new vehicles that achieve good scores. Today, safety ratings have reached such a high degree of public and industry awareness that they are driving vehicle changes even without additional government regulations.
For more information, read AAA’s detailed breakdown of the Car Safety Ratings testing procedures.