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Southern Minnesota’s injury law firm Serving the Community Since 1972

What Makes A Car Safe?

We all know that parent who would send their teenage drivers out on the road in an army tank or an armored car if they could. Vehicle safety is a topic of interest to all motorists, but parents of newly licensed drivers are particularly concerned with the safety of the vehicles their children are driving.

Most of the statistics released on automobile safety come from two different entities: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS sets tougher safety standards than NHTSA, although the ratings from both are worth monitoring.

Assessing Today’s Tech-Heavy Vehicles

As the technology built into today’s vehicles becomes more sophisticated, the safety tests need to adapt as well. The IIHS has developed effectiveness standards for driving assistance and collision avoidance technologies. It also rates a vehicle’s roof crush strength, the effectiveness of its headlights, and the accessibility to lower anchors and tethers for children (LATCH), a system that was created to make it easier to correctly install child safety seats without using safety belts.

Christian Wardlaw, who covers the automotive industry for the New York Daily News, recently summarized the main features that make a car safe.

Heavier is better – No surprises here. Heavier vehicles provide more protection in a collision. In an IIHS test that is nearly 10 years old, three small vehicles with top safety ratings were crashed into midsize cars by the same manufacturer. In every test, the occupants of the larger vehicle were kept safer than the occupants of the smaller vehicle.

Newer is better – In the past two decades, car manufacturers have made significant improvements in vehicle architecture. The “bones” of a vehicle – the structure directly below the exterior body – are more sophisticated than they were 20 years ago. Carmakers use high-strength steel in specific areas based on knowledge learned from crash tests. In addition, new vehicles have technological features that help avoid accidents such as automatic emergency braking systems, backup cameras, and lane departure warnings.

A low center of gravity is better – Both the IIHS and the NHTSA rate vehicles on their likeliness to roll over. Vehicles with a lower center of gravity are less likely to roll over than vehicles that are higher off the ground.

Making A Buying Decision

It may be difficult to find all of the safety features you would like in a car that you can afford and want to drive. Good gas mileage is an important factor for many car buyers, and heavy vehicles do not travel as many miles on a gallon of gas as lighter vehicles. That said, it is worth keeping these safety factors in mind when buying a vehicle, whether it is for a young driver or a more experienced one.

Some accidents cannot be avoided. If you or a loved one is injured in an accident that was caused by someone else's negligence, it is important that you understand your rights. Speak directly to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible following an accident by calling Klampe Law Firm.

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