How to Shop for a Safer Car
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How to Shop for a Safer Car

Wednesday, December 06, 2017By Nina Shapirshteyn

When shopping for a new car, you probably have a list of features that you have considered for convenience and luxury including the stereo system, moon roof, and numbers of seats. But an important part of any new car purchase is also a consideration of safety, which includes looking at the results of crash tests and the inclusion of crash avoidance technology.

Whether you are looking for a new or used car, consider the following factors:

Structural Safety

Generally, lighter, smaller cars are less safe than heavier, bigger models. Smaller vehicles have less structure to absorb crash energy which can lead to higher rates of death or serious injury. People in lighter vehicle experience higher crash forces when struck by heavier vehicles.

Vehicles with a good, crashworthy design help to reduce the risk of death in a car accident. A good structure in a car will have a strong occupant compartment, a strong roof that can withstand a rollover, side structures that can manage the force of an oncoming vehicle and crumple zones to absorb the force of a serious crash. Airbags are vital as they protect the occupants of a vehicle from striking the vehicle or ejecting from the car. Seatbelts restrain the occupants inside the car and distribute the crash forces to the upper body’s stronger bony parts.

Crash Tests Rate Models on Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the federal government conduct crash tests on vehicles to determine their safety, especially in the event of certain types of crashes such as rollovers and rear crashes. IIHS allows an online search of vehicle ratings and how well they protect people in different types of crashes. IIHS awards ratings based on its crash tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also assigns safety ratings to vehicles that can be searched here.

Crash Avoidance Technology

Most new cars, minivans, pickups and SUVs perform well in a range of crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), as well as the federal government. Still, some models could do a better job of protecting people in rollovers, rear crashes and certain front crashes. Crash avoidance technology is available on many mainstream and luxury models, so safety-conscious buyers also should look for these systems when weighing options. Some new crash-avoidance options include front-crash prevention, curve adaptive headlights, and blind spot detection. With constant new developments in technology, cars will become safer by alerting drivers to dangerous conditions.

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