Car Safety Ratings are a major factor when it comes to buying a new car.
In fact, a ConsumerReports.com survey in January 2011 found that 65 percent of new car buyers listed "Safety" among their top three priorities:
Women rated car safety far more important than men (74% versus 56% for men), while men were more worried about value than women (54% versus 47%).
New Car Safety Ratings are released by the likes of EuroNCAP (Europe New Car Assessment Programme), JapanNCAP, AustraliaNCAP, and America's IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) and NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
1. Crash Performance Tests are carried out on vehicles with wired "dummies" to see how well passengers are protected in simulated crash situations. Tests include;
2. Active Safety Features which are being built into more vehicles that help motorists avoid a collision or accident, such as;
And all the while, more advanced technology is creeping into top-of-the-range vehicles such as infra-red "Night Vision" displays that allow a motorist to better see in the dark; high intensity head-lights that "see around corners"; and video systems that provide drivers with a 360-degree view.
Eventually, these advanced technologies will filter down to the mass market segment making motor vehicles more and more safe.
Established in 1997, Euro NCAP is made up of seven European Governments as well as consumer and motoring organisations in every European country.
It organizes crash-tests and provides motoring consumers with a realistic and independent assessment of the car safety ratings of some of the most popular cars sold in Europe.
The U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 2013 car safety ratings report has assigned its highest Top Safety Pick+ awards to vehicles that score highly in occupant protection in 4 of 5 evaluations, and are acceptable in the fifth.
Some of the criteria in assessing these car safety ratings are "moderate overlap frontal test, side impact, rollover and rear tests".
So who's the dummy?...
*NB. Due to the limited Car Safety Ratings testing of low-volume, top-end models this list is only for vehicles under U.S.$50,000.
In another Forbes article automotive journalist and author Jim Gorzelany points out that "The laws of physics always favor a larger car in a collision... a smaller and lighter vehicle will tend to fare worse in a crash than will a larger and heavier model".
The small vehicles in this list are packed with the latest safety features to make them as safe as possible, but the onus is still on the driver and passengers to drive carefully, always be alert, and remember... if you're unlucky enough to crash into something a lot bigger than you are... you'll most likely still come off second best.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's report of June 9, 2011 highlighted the great contribution ESC (Electronic Stability Control) had made to motor safety, especially for SUVs (sport utility vehicles).
The IIHS car safety ratings report states "In the past, the top-heavy vehicles frequently rolled over, giving some of
the highest driver death rates...
But drivers of today's SUVs are among the least likely to die in a crash... due largely to the widespread availability of ESC. With the propensity to roll over reduced, SUVs are on balance safer than cars because their bigger size and weight provide greater protection in a crash".
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