Summer is upon us. When the mercury rises, many people flock to car dealerships to replace or upgrade their current vehicles. Although we all hope that we never need our car’s safety features, most car buyers still want to purchase a safe car. Yet when every car manufacturer claims that its cars are safe, how do you know whether the manufacturer is telling you the truth and the car that you are considering is really safe?
Doing your homework has never been easier if you know where to look.
There are two main sources for safety information, and all of the ratings are available online. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”), the United States government agency dedicated to highway safety in passenger cars rates every car with one to five stars, with five stars being the safest car. NHTSA safety ratings can be found online at www.safercar.gov.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (“IIHS”), an independent, nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses – deaths, injuries, and property damage – from crashes on the nation’s roads, also rates the safety of cars. Through dynamic crash testing, IIHS determines whether the safety of a car is “Good,” “Acceptable,” or “Poor.” IIHS designates the safest cars a “Top Safety Pick” or a “Top Safety Pick +.” IIHS’s ratings can be located online at www.iihs.org. There, you check out the ratings and, frequently, watch YouTube video of the crash tests of the car you are considering.
Although the federal government now requires that its five-star safety rating appear on the pricing sticker for every new car, many pre-owned vehicles do not include that safety rating on the sales sticker. Yet, just this year, NHTSA released an iPhone app that saves you from having to run home and sit down at the computer. SaferCar includes the safety ratings for all vehicles manufactured since 2000, tells you where to find an expert child seat fitter, and allows you to determine whether your current vehicle has been recalled by the manufacturer for a safety defect. SaferCar is free, and can be downloaded from the App Store. NHTSA is currently developing a similar app for Android devices.