Do 5-Star Car Crash Ratings Really Matter?


August 13, 2012

If you are shopping for a new motor vehicle, the safety afforded by the car, pickup truck or SUV that you purchase should be a significant factor in making a selection. This is particularly true if you have small children.

While many people know that they want to purchase a “safe vehicle”, some new car buyers have no idea what type of vehicle is safe in terms of crash avoidance and occupant protection in the event of a Georgia car crash. One of the terms that is often mentioned in terms of vehicle safety but not well understood by most consumers is “crash ratings.” The question that most consumers should ask is what do crash ratings mean, and do they make a difference?

There are two organizations that produce motor vehicle crash ratings – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The NHTSA rates vehicles in terms of crashworthiness from 1-5 stars with a five star rating being the safest in auto collisions. The NHTSA is a government agency and related to the Department of Transportation. The insurance industry uses the IIHS rating system, and the ratings range from poor to good. Both systems rate the probability that a vehicle occupant will be seriously injured in a car accident based on simulated front and side crash tests. The NHTSA also measures likelihood of a vehicle rollover.

The front and rear crash tests involve strapping crash dummies into a vehicle that is slammed into a wall or has an object slam into it. A NSTSA Five Star rating means that under these conditions there is less than a 10 percent chance of serious injury whereas a One Star rating means that there is a 46 percent or greater chance of serious injury. The crash test is best understood as variations in protection between ratings, as few car accidents occur precisely the way crash tests are conducted.

A recent study provides interesting new evidence that the crash ratings do provide useful information. A study by professors at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business analyzed changes in crash ratings before and after changes were made to vehicles which altered their crash rating. The study found that the ratings do reflect actual improvements in crashworthiness for passenger cars. A passenger car that went from a two star rating to a five star rating produced a 36 percent decrease in car crash fatalities. Vehicle improvement from poor to good under the IIHS crash rating system produced a 46 percent reduction in car accident fatalities.

While this study suggests that crash rating systems are an accurate indicator of which passenger vehicles are safer in a car crash, the study found no significant difference when comparing post modification crash ratings for pickup trucks and SUVs. Because most new vehicles now have a five star rating, this information may be most applicable when buying a used car. The bottom line is that the crash rating system does matter if you are buying a passenger car so you should ask about this important safety standard when buying a family vehicle.

Although a 5-Star Crash Rating may help protect you and your family in a Georgia car crash, sadly many people are injured and killed in car crashes in Atlanta and throughout Georgia each year. If you or a close family member suffers serious injury or a family member is lost in a Georgia car crash, our experienced Atlanta car crash attorneys have been representing car crash victims throughout Georgia for over 27 years. We provide zealous advocacy and compassionate representation because we know that car crash victims are frequently overwhelmed with pain, anxiety and financial pressures.

Our Georgia car crash attorneys are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

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