Vehicle Safety

What goes into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 5-Star Test? (1)

Part 1: Protecting the Occupants

Crash tests evaluate how well a vehicle protects areas of a passenger's body during a head-on collision, a T—bone Intersection accident, sliding into a telephone pole on the driver's side, and a rollover accident.

Part 2: Testing the Vehicle

The NHTSA recommends buying a vehicle with three crash-avoidance technologies. Technologies tested according to the NHTSA’s requirements are:

  • Forward collision warning: warns when your vehicle is too close to others in front of you.
  • Automatic emergency braking: applies brakes, or aids the driver to fully brake, before or during a crash.
  • Lane departure warning: warns when your vehicle drifts from your lane without signaling.

More Ways to Stay Safe

94 percent of crashes involve human error. While the following automated technologies are not part of the NHTSA‘s 5-star rating, they can help prevent many accidents.

  • Lane-keeping support: corrects steering to stop drifting out of a lane unintentionally.
  • Blind spot detection: cameras and sensors warn a driver trying to change lanes that there‘s an unseen vehicle.
  • Pedestrian automatic emergency braking: automatically brakes if a pedestrian is in front of a vehicle and the driver hasn't tried to avoid an accident.
  1. Purchasing With Safety in Mind, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2017

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If you’ve ever conducted research while shopping for a new or used car, you may have taken notice of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) car safety ratings. Each year, the NHTSA conducts its New Car Assessment Program, testing the newest cars, sports utility vehicles, trucks and vans to determine how well these vehicles protect drivers and passengers during a crash.

When it comes to car safety ratings, a vehicle’s ability to protect its occupants is crucial. In order to calculate a vehicle’s 5-Star Safety Rating, the NHTSA puts its famous crash test dummies to work in a series of crash tests. From rollover resistance tests to head-on collisions, the NHTSA evaluates how well each vehicle protects crucial areas of a passenger’s body during various types of accidents. Vehicle safety is then assessed on a five-star grading system – one star being the lowest rating.

If you’re shopping for a vehicle, there are a few additional features you can look for beyond car safety ratings. The NHTSA recommends looking for cars that offer the following types of driver assistance technologies:

  • Forward collision warning
  • Lane departure warning
  • Blind spot detection system
  • Rearview video system
  • Automatic emergency braking

While a vehicle safety rating is a great place to start your research, bear in mind that older vehicles will not have some of these technologies available. But if you’re purchasing a brand-new car, keep these features on your radar.

Your car may be as safe as can be, but what about your child’s first car? Find out what you should search for when buying your new driver their first set of wheels.