You’re driving your car along University Avenue in Sacramento on a rainy winter day. You’re thinking about what you will be doing during the upcoming weekend. Suddenly, a car traveling in the opposite direction veers across into your lane and hits you head on. Hopefully, your car, which you recently purchased, received a high safety rating for frontal crashes!
No doubt you checked the safety ratings for your car before you bought it, right? If you’re like most of us, that was not something you did. However, it’s something that easily can, and should be done by all of us when purchasing a vehicle.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA,) part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, has tested for safety many of the vehicles on the road today. They have a 5-star rating system (the more stars the better) which reflects vehicles’ overall safety and the results of frontal crash tests, side barrier crash tests, side pole tests and rollover resistance tests.
The frontal crash test reflects head-on crash safety and the side barrier test determines how a vehicle will withstand a broadside (t-bone) type impact from another vehicle.
The side pole crash test reflects how a vehicle will handle a situation where it slides sideways into a pole and the rollover resistance test determines how a vehicle will withstand a rollover crash.
You can access NHTSA’s ratings for most vehicles from their website. Lucky for you, your car received the maximum 5 stars for overall safety and 4 stars for frontal crash safety. These ratings are reflected in the fact that you come out of this accident with only minor injuries.
The other guy didn’t fare as well. His car got only 2 stars for frontal crash safety and 3 for overall safety. His next ride was in an ambulance.
Next time you’re in the market for a car, check out the NHTSA ratings before you make your decision. It could save a lot of wear and tear on your most important asset: you.