What are Crash Test Ratings and who performs them?

Crash test ratings determine how safe or unsafe a vehicle is. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety keep track of crash test ratings, and car insurance companies consider these ratings when determining drivers’ monthly premiums. A safer car can qualify you for cheaper auto insurance rates. Learn more and shop for free car insurance quotes with our comparison tool below.

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Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Nov 17, 2020

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Car accidents are dangerous and can be fatal, especially in cars which do not meet high safety ratings. Does your current midsized vehicle concern you when it comes to being involved in a high impact accident or are you confident it will hold up?

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Imagine going to work or to the grocery store and listening to the radio peacefully. You’re enjoying the time away from your hectic schedule and taking advantage of the wide, open road when out of nowhere a vehicle comes out from an unsuspecting street and the next thing you know someone is pulling you out of your vehicle to safety.

How safe is your car now? How much have you been protected? If you purchased a car with a five star safety rating, you have much better chances of making it through a serious accident that one without one.

Crash Test Firms

Two companies keep track of crash test ratings, and it’s a good idea to follow them closely when purchasing a new vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety who both supply the public with safety related information on new and used car models. Like car safety ratings, these agencies do thorough governmental five star ratings which include side and front testing to determine the amount of impact and safety features. Each test is different from the next but important when it comes to the severity and likelihood of drivers encountering a car accident at some point in their lifetime. The frontal tests include dummies that are the size of an average male and used to create a head on collision by going 35 mph (with seatbelts on, of course). The impact is measured and each car receives a rating based on the results of the crash.

The Importance of Crash Tests

Crash tests are important and when looking into purchasing a new vehicle, you can research the statistics of the each car, what tests were performed and how they were rated. Each test is done repeatedly to measure not only impact but energy level of the crash test dummies. This lets the crash test firms know how effective the seat belts and the airbags are. Side impact tests are very important as well and can determine with acute accuracy how safe a vehicle will be to its passengers.  Using a poor to good rating, side tests simulate how safe a passenger would be in an intersection collision when crashing into a barrier. When demonstrating side impact collision, a five star rating is granted to those cars and passengers that have a five percent or lower injury rate. A four star rating is given for those that result in a 10% or less rating and so on. Each test uses dummies from many sizes and shapes, ranging from adult men to children.

Rear crash tests and rollover tests are also conducted. A car’s seat and headrest is tested to determine how well it supports a passenger or driver’s head in the event of a collision and is based on a five star rating system just like the side impact and frontal tests are done. By examining the crash test results before purchasing your vehicle, you can be in control of your safety. Although it is impossible to predict when and how an accident will occur, crash test ratings have the ability to provide you with knowledge to make the best decision should you be involved in one. Invest some time in crash test ratings and results and feel confident with the car you have chosen for yourself and your passengers.

How do crash test ratings affect car insurance rates?

Anytime a vehicle is tested and performs well in a crash test by one of the qualified rating agencies this will have a positive impact on car insurance rates. Car insurance companies reward drivers who choose safer models and when the risk of injury is lower in a car accident based on the model you drive then it’s only natural you benefit from lower car insurance rates.

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