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How to Interpret Crash Test Results When Buying a New Vehicle

On behalf of The Law Offices of Howard Kornberg Posted in Car Accident

When leasing or buying a new vehicle, it’s important to take safety ratings into consideration. Most modern vehicles are safer than their older counterparts, but you still need to know how well they will do in an accident compared to other vehicles in the same class. Crash-test data can help you make a more informed decision. Our auto accident attorney offers seven insights into interpreting crash test results.

You Can’t Compare All Crash Test Results

Frontal crash test results between models can only be compared when vehicles are in the same class or weight range. You don’t want to compare vehicles that are more than 250 pounds heavier or lighter than each other. This is because the ratings are a specific analysis of how a vehicle compares to another of the same weight, rather than a larger or smaller vehicle.

Be Aware of Who You’re Getting Your Data From

There are actually two different agencies that provide today’s crash test data. They are the IIHS and the National Highway Traffic Administration. The IIHS test is considered better as it more accurately simulates a real-world car crash by conducting a test that involves a frontal crash with a movable barrier. The NHTSA uses an immovable barrier instead, which doesn’t correlate to most real-world accidents.

IIHS Tests Simulate More Dangerous Accidents

NHTSA tests include a side-barrier crash with a pole to simulate an accident where a light post or tree impacts the vehicle. This test can reveal weaknesses that may not appear in a frontal barrier test. The NHTSA has also begun including head injury data in its side-impact rating system.

While all of this is well and good, side-impact results by the NHTSA are based on a sled that’s the size of a mid-sized sedan. The IIHS, on the other hand, uses a larger sled that’s about the same size as a truck or SUV. Because of the larger seed size, the test simulates a more dangerous crash. However, both the test from the NHTSA and the IIHS is considered consistent because they use the same sled size across all of their vehicle classes.

The NHTSA Has Changed Their Star System

The NHTSA revamped its New Car Assessment Program in 2011 by introducing a side-pole test and new crash test dummies. The side-pole test supplemented the already existing data for side and frontal impact crash tests, but cars made before 2011 weren’t tested with the new system. Because of this, ratings that came out before 2011 are considered inaccurate by the new star system.

Roof-Strength Tests Are Significant

The IIHS includes a roof-strength test meant to reveal how well a vehicle’s roof would protect the passengers inside if it were to roll over. Back in 2010, the IIHS began testing how roofs fared when subjected to weight up to four times larger in a crash test. By doing so, they can offer consumers more insight and information on how well a specific model would do in a rollover accident. If you are ever injured in a rollover accident due to someone else’s negligence, it’s important to contact a Los Angeles car accident attorney to determine whether you’re entitled to compensation.

Rollover Ratings May Be Inaccurate

The NHTSA’s rollover resistance ratings were questioned by safety experts and automakers starting in 2001. Because the ratings were based solely on mathematical calculations rather than driving tests, they were believed to be inaccurate. In 2004, the NHTSA added the “fishhook dynamic driving test” which observes a vehicle as it suddenly swerves and overcorrects. While meant to reveal a vehicle’s chances of rolling over, some experts still question the test’s validity.

Your Vehicle May Not Have Any Test Results

When conducting research, you may find that your vehicle model doesn’t have a rating at all. This could be because it hasn’t been tested or because the results are pending. Because the NHTSA revamped its testing methods in the 2011 model year, tests done before that year have been rendered void.

Also, the NHTSA and IIHS both test the vehicles with the highest market volume. This means that cars like convertibles are often never tested. For vehicles that are tested, you won’t find their results until they’ve been on the market for several months.

If you’re in a motor vehicle accident, contact the Law Offices of Howard Kornberg for a free case evaluation. An experienced Los Angeles car accident attorney will sit down with you and discuss the best legal strategy to obtain the compensation you deserve. Have questions? We’re here to help you through the entire claims process. You’ll never be just a case number. Call us today at 310-997-0904 or contact us online.

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How to Interpret Crash Test Results When Buying a New Vehicle
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