Choosing a Safe Vehicle

There are many things to think about when you’re looking to buy a car, minivan, SUV or pickup. If you factor safety into your choice, you probably want to know what’s the safest vehicle to buy.  Safety has numerous aspects, so there’s no direct answer. But you can start by recognizing that safety involves avoiding crashes to begin with and then protecting you if and when a crash occurs.

Crash Avoidance

Electronic Stability Control is a proven crash avoidance feature that’s standard on 2012 and later models. ESC is an extension of antilock brake technology that helps drivers maintain control on curves and slippery roads. ESC engages automatically to help keep the vehicle in the intended line of travel. It lowers the risk of a fatal single-vehicle crash by about half and the risk of a fatal rollover by as much as 80 percent.

Crashworthy Design

Structure and restraints are the main aspects of a vehicle’s design that determine its crashworthiness. Good structure means a strong occupant compartment (safety cage), crumple zones to absorb the force of a serious crash, side structures that can manage the force of a striking vehicle or struck object and a strong roof that won’t collapse in on you in a rollover. Until recently, restraints included a basic safety belt and frontal airbags. Now, there’s more. Crash-activated tensioners reduce belt slack. Force limiters can reduce rib injury risk from the belt itself. The inflation characteristics of advanced frontal airbags are geared to specific crash circumstances. Other airbags protect your head and chest in side impacts. Seats and head restraints are being upgraded to reduce neck injuries in rear crashes. The best way to evaluate a vehicle’s structural design and restraints is in a dynamic test. Based on test performance, a vehicle earns a crashworthiness rating from good to poor.

To learn what vehicles have earned a top safety pick, check out the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s website.


Source: Institute for Highway Safety