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How to Interpret Crash Test Ratings When Buying a New Vehicle

Posted on by in Auto Accidents


When buying or leasing a new vehicle, it's important to consider safety ratings. Most modern cars are safer than their older counterparts, but you still need to know how well a car will do in an accident compared to others in the same class.

Crash test results can be of use in making a more informed decision. Our Miami car accident lawyer offers a few insights into interpreting crash test data.

You can't compare all crash test results, you can only compare frontal crash test results between models when vehicles are in the same class or weight range because the ratings are a specific analysis of how a car compares to another of similar weight, rather than a larger or smaller one. Therefore, you don't want to compare vehicles that are more than 250 pounds heavier or lighter than each other.

Be aware of who you're getting your information from

Two different agencies, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Administration, provide today's crash test data.

The IIHS test simulates more accurately a real-world car crash than the NHTSA test by conducting an analysis that involves a frontal collision with a movable barrier. The test is considered better as it simulates more dangerous accidents.

The NHTSA test uses an immovable barrier instead, which doesn't correlate to most real-world accidents. The tests also simulate an accident where a light post or tree impacts the vehicle by including a side-barrier crash with a pole. This test is used to reveal weaknesses that may not appear in a frontal collision test. Also, in their side-impact rating system, the NHTSA has begun incorporating head injury data. However, these side-impact results are based on a sled that's the size of a mid-sized sedan.

The IIHS, on the other hand, uses in its side-impact tests a sled that's larger, about the size of a truck or SUV, so the tests simulate a more dangerous crash.

However, because they use their same sled size across all of their vehicle classes both the test from the IIHS and the NHTSA are considered consistent.

The NHTSA began using the 5-star safety rating system

The NHTSA introduced in 2011 the side-pole test and new crash test dummies, revamping its New Car Assessment Program. The new analysis supplemented the already existing data for side and frontal impact crash tests. But motor vehicles made before 2011 are considered inaccurate by the new star system because the cars weren't tested with the new system.

Roof crush strength tests are significant

The IIHS includes a roof-strength test that informs how well a car's roof would protect the passengers inside in the case of a rollover. The IIHS tests how roofs fare when subjected to weight up to four times larger in a crash test. By doing so, the institute can offer consumers more information and insight on how well a car model would do in a rollover accident.

If you ever suffered injuries or someone you love died due to a rollover accident caused by someone else's negligence, it's essential to contact a Miami rollover attorney to determine if you're entitled to compensation.

Rollover safety ratings may be inaccurate

The NHTSA's rollover resistance ratings were questioned by safety experts and automakers starting in 2001. The ratings were believed to be inaccurate because they were based solely on mathematical calculations rather than driving tests.

In 2004, the NHTSA added the "fishhook dynamic driving test" which observes a vehicle as it suddenly swerves and over-corrects. While meant to reveal a vehicle's chances of rolling over, some experts still question the test's validity.

Your vehicle may not have any test results

When conducting research, you may find that your vehicle model doesn't have a rating at all. This lack of information could be because it hasn't been tested or because the results are pending. Because the NHTSA revamped their testing methods in the 2011 model year, tests done before that year have been rendered void.

Also, the NHTSA and IIHS both test the vehicles with the highest market volume. This means that cars like convertibles are often never tested. For vehicles that are tested, you won't find their results until they've been on the market for several months.

Contact a Miami rollover accident lawyer

If you're injured in a car crash, contact The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary for a free case evaluation.

Our experienced Miami car accident attorney will sit down with you and discuss the best legal strategy to obtain the compensation you deserve.

Have questions? We're here to help you through the entire claims process. You'll never be just a case number.

Call us today at 305.416.9805 or contact us online.

For questions and free legal advice to help individuals please call us

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided on this site is not formal legal advice, also the site does not allow you to form an attorney-client relationship.