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Safer Cars Can Save Lives

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Car manufacturers increasingly design for safety, and promote safety features as selling points. When you’re buying a car, it’s a good idea to check out the safety and crashworthiness ratings of any model, new or used, that you’re planning to buy.

Crashworthiness is a measure of how well a vehicle protects its occupants in a crash. Since the late 1970s, the federal New Car Assessment Program has compared frontal crashworthiness among new passenger vehicles. This program, which employs 35 mph collisions into a full-width rigid barrier, has provided US consumers with essential crashworthiness information about all vehicles sold in the US. The program has become a major influence on automotive design, because manufacturers know that consumers read the test results, and they have improved their vehicles’ crashworthiness in order to perform better.

As a result of the New Car Assessment Program and its crashworthiness ratings, today’s passenger vehicles are significantly more crashworthy than they used to be. Still, about 40,000 people, drivers and passengers die in crashes on US roads each year, and about half of the deaths occur in frontal crashes. There continues to be substantial room for improvement.

Sport Utility Vehicles, SUV’s, have not utilized principles of safe design. SUVs’ high center of gravity makes them more likely to roll over during quick maneuvers to avoid an accident at highway speeds. Insurance industry statistics show that in all but the heaviest SUV’s, occupants have higher death rates in single-vehicle accidents. The principal factor is vehicle rollover. After an auto accident insurance companies and lawyers always investigate the safety design of vehicles involved in a crash, to determine the safety of the vehicle relative to industry best practices, and the functioning of all safety-related components.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates all cars on their safety features and publishes the findings on their website, http://www.iihs.org/ratings/default.aspx. The Institute also publishes a guide to shopping for a safe car.

Source by David S. Casey Jr

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