When buying a new car you may see a 5-star safety rating This 5-star rating is the official safety rating given to a vehicle after testing by the NHTSA. To determine this rating the NHTSA conducts safety tests on vehicles to ensure they are safe to be on the roads.
The Frontal Crash Test
The first test completed by the NHTSA is a front crash test. The test will have a test dummy in the driver’s seat and one in the passenger seat. All of the test dummies will be secured with the vehicle’s seat belts. This test will imitate a head on collision between 2 vehicles of a similar weight.
In the test, the vehicle will usually be crashed into a fixed barrier at approximately 35 mph. The NHTSA will then examine the injuries on the test dummies and evaluate how safe the vehicle is for humans. The ratings for this test should only be compared with vehicles of the same weight.
The Side Barrier Crash Test
This test is completed to imitate a collision between vehicles where one vehicle is hit on the side by the front of another. During this test, there will be a test dummy in the driver’s seat and in the rear passenger seat behind the driver. All of the dummies will be fastened into the vehicle using the seat belts.
A weight of approximately 3015 pounds will crash into the side of the vehicle at a speed of 38.5 mph. The vehicle will be stationary at this point and the evaluators will assess the injuries sustained by the test dummies. It is possible to compare these test ratings with any other vehicle.
Side Pole Crash Test
This test was designed to imitate a crash into a telephone pole on the driver’s side. For this test, there will be a test dummy in the driver’s seat only. The dummy will be secured in the vehicle using the seat belt.
During the test, the vehicle will be angled to 75 degrees and pulled sideways at roughly 20 mph. The vehicle will then crash into a 25cm diameter pole close to the driver’s seat. Injuries to the dummy will be assessed to create the safety rating. It is possible to compare the ratings for this test between all car types.
The Rollover Resistance Test
The rollover resistance test has been designed to imitate certain scenarios where a vehicle is traveling too fast, leaves the road and rolls. The rating will be based on the laboratory measurement of Static Stability Factor. This will determine whether a vehicle is ‘top heavy’ and likely to roll.
This measurement will be combined with a test of driving maneuvers designed to see if a vehicle is vulnerable to rolling. The lower the rating the more likely the vehicle is to be top heavy and to roll in certain scenarios.
It is important that you always check the safety rating of a vehicle before you buy them. A vehicle with a higher safety rating will be better for you and your family.