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Paying Attention to Car Safety Ratings is Essential

» Posted February 7, 2018Resources | Share This Post

When you buy a vehicle, the California lemon law provides important consumer protections in case problems arise. Your goal when car shopping is likely to purchase a reliable vehicle so you won't have to deal with repeated repairs. You also want to make sure that the car you are purchasing will keep you and your family safe.

It can be hard to determine which vehicle is most likely to provide you with all of the features you're looking for. However, according to Chron, car pros urge that all vehicle buyers check safety ratings before making a purchase.

Why Check Vehicle Safety Ratings?

While all cars today must meet basic safety standards, car pros still believe it is important to check ratings to see which vehicle has the best safety records.  In particular, there are two different sources of crash test ratings that car buyers are urged to consider.

The first source of the safety rates drivers are encouraged to look at is the crash test ratings provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHFSA). NHTSA's rating system is a five-star assessment system for new vehicles. The ratings date all the way back to 1966, which is the year that two government agencies were created by President Lyndon Johnson. Three years after Johnson signed the bills creating the regulatory agencies, the agencies merged together so the NHTSA could be formed.

The NHTSA indicates its mission includes saving lives, prevent injuries, and reducing the risk of motor vehicle crashes. NHTSA achieves these objectives through training and education; as well as through researching standards and  enforcement activities. One of the key activities NHTSA does is to score vehicle models on three different safety areas in crash tests: front and side impact are two of those three areas and rollover propensity is another of those areas.  Each vehicle comes equipped with an NHTSA safety rating and the more stars the vehicle gets on the five-star safety rating system, the better the vehicle.

The other source of safety ratings is ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).  IISHA was founded by three major insurance associations, so its goal is both to increase safety and reduce the costs associated with insurance claims. The insurance associations that are represented by IIHS account for over 80 percent of the auto market in the United States.

The safety ratings through IIHS also test vehicles in crashes, but the focus is on different criteria from NHTSA. While NHTSA tests the likelihood of vehicle rollover, for example, IISH considers the strength of the vehicle's roof. IIHS also tests in more areas than NHTSA. For example, IIHS evaluates headlight and automatic braking systems, which NHTSA does not currently do. However, Chron did indicate that NHTSA is currently in the process of updating its five start safety rating system so the types of vehicle features that NHTSA looks at may change in the future.

When you are shopping for vehicles, it is best to look at safety ratings from both agencies so you get the maximum information possible. You should also know your consumer rights under the California lemon law in case something goes wrong. If problems arise, an experienced attorney can provide help in knowing your rights.


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Posted By: Rick Mills