How To Buy A Safer Car

In America, we're constantly bombarded with car commercials that all promise us a safer ride - as long as we buy the newest, most technologically up-to-date model. But how do we know which vehicle is really the best and safest - so that, even when we are involved in a car accident, we can minimize the chances of personal injury and wrongful death?

Well, there's an easy way to check on the safety rating on whatever manufacturer model you're considering - just visit the Federal Department of Transportation website, www.SaferCar.gov.

Beginning with the 2011 model year, the government has established a new and much more rigorous safety rating for all new cars. The upgraded ratings system, unveiled in October of 2010, will evaluate side pole crash testing and crash prevention-technologies. Not only that, but being a crash test dummy is no longer just a man's world - for the first time ever, female crash test dummies are being used in crash simulations to study a car accident's effect on women.

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said of the new ratings system, "We're raising the bar on safety. Through new tests, better crash data, and higher standards, we are making the safety ratings tougher and more meaningful for consumers."

The old ratings system, just like the new one, is based on a 5 star rating, with 1 star being the lowest and 5 stars the highest. The problem with the old system was that too many vehicles were able to reach the highest ratings, giving consumers little guidance on choosing between models. Because the standards are now higher, ratings now have much more variance.


Now, the safety of passenger cars, SUVs, vans and pickup trucks in three broad areas - frontal crash, side crash, and rollover resistance - are evaluated. New technological safety features, such as electronic stability control, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning, are also taken into account in the final rating.

One of the most significant changes to the ratings program for consumers is the addition of an Overall Vehicle Score for each vehicle tested. The Overall Vehicle Score combines crash test results and compares them to the average risk of personal injury, wrongful death and rollover potential of other vehicles.

SaferCar.gov also contains valuable information that's important to current car owners as well, including the latest safety recall information and service bulletins for most car models. A car owner with a safety complaint about his or her vehicle can also report it to the The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) on the site.

This is an incredible resource for any car owner as well as anyone shopping for a new car. Your tax dollars paid for it - so make sure you get your money's worth!

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