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What Do Crash Test Ratings Really Mean? (Part 5)

Questionnaire - ExcellentIn the last blog your Mazda Dealer near Sand Springs started comparing the NHTSA and the IIHS and their respective frontal crash tests. We explained how even though they test the same portion of the car, they give us unique information about the safety of the car. As a result, both of the organizations feel that their frontal tests are complements to each other, not competitive in nature. Even the chief of the NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program, Nathaniel Beuse says that consumers should used the results from both tests, “together to assess overall frontal crash test safety in terms of the effectiveness of restraint systems and the integrity of the occupant compartment.”

It is important to remember that the tests can only be used to get an idea of how the vehicle would perform either in a collision with a vehicle of similar size and weight or in a single vehicle collision, which would result in essentially the same forces as a collision with a same or similar sized vehicle. These tests really should not be used to assess how a vehicle would fare if it were to collide with a vehicle that is significantly different in size. You might think that the majority of crashes are with other vehicles, but a fair number of the most severe crashes are actually single vehicle crashes, which makes the results of the testing more relevant than you might think. According to NHTSA stats about half of the fatalities in 2003 were from single-vehicle collisions.

While frontal impact testing is obviously important to knowing the full safety of a vehicle, but both the NHTSA and IIHS test much more than just the front of the vehicle. In the next few blogs we will be covering side-impact, rollover testing, and low-speed bumper testing. Keep checking back for this information!


What Do Crash Test Ratings Really Mean? (Part 4)

Thinking Customer Woman Choosing Five Star Rating. Good FeedbackWhen we left off in the next blog, your dealer of Used Cars near Broken Arrow had just explained how the IIHS does their frontal crash testing. Now, we are going to explain how the IIHS issues their score and how that compares to the NHTSA. The IIHS ranks the vehicles it tests in one of four positions: Good, Acceptable, Marginal or Poor. Unlike the NHTSA, the ratings from the IIHS do not correlate to a chance of injury because the IIHS is assessing more than just occupant injury. Additionally is looks at how well the vehicle structure performs and the movement of the dummy is, for instance, it suffer from partial ejection from the vehicle.

At first glance you might think that both organizations are measuring essentially the same issues, but just the very fact that the tests are conducted differently means that the result tend to be pretty different. These days vehicles are designed so that the energy that is created in a collision is absorbed through the body of the vehicles and around the occupants. In most vehicles, this is done very successfully when the vehicles get hit head-on. However, it means that the force put on the restraints to hold the passengers in place is a lot greater.

Adrian Lund, chief operating officer of the IIHS explained it like this, “The government test emphasizes how well the restraint systems manage the energy of the occupant. Our frontal offset crash test means that part of the vehicle is managing all the energy, and we know from real-world data that intrusion (of the vehicle into the passenger compartment) is the key in this type of collision.”


What Do Crash Test Ratings Really Mean? (Part 3)

Hand Writing Car On Black ChalkboardYour dealer of Used Cars near Tulsa wants you to know what you are reading when you look at a safety rating. In this blog we are going to begin explaining the details by looking at frontal testing from both the  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Both NHTSA and IIHS do frontal crash testing, however, the two tests are quite different. For the NHSTA test, two crash dummies, that are the size of average adult men, are placed in the driver and front-passenger seats and secure with seatbelts. The vehicle is then crashed head-on into a stationary barrier at 35 miles per hour. This is to simulate the equivalent of two vehicles or similar weight crashing into each other head on at that speed. Once the crash has been simulated the force of impact to the dummies is measured and the NHTSA issues the vehicle a star rating based on the percentage chance that the driver and passenger would get hurt. These are injuries that would require immediate hospitalization and may be life-threatening to the head and chest. NHTSA’s star ratings are as follows:

5 Stars = 10 percent or less chance of injury

4 Stars = 11-20 percent chance of injury

3 Stars = 21-35 percent chance of injury

2 Stars = 36-45 percent chance of injury

1 Star = 46 percent or greater chance of injury

The IIHS differs because their frontal test is conducted to be offset. This means that only one side of the vehicle’s front end is hit. The vehicle strikes a deformable barrier at 40 mph on the driver side. This simulates a frontal offset crash between two vehicles of the same weight that are each traveling at just under 40 mph. This leaves only about 40% of the front end of the vehicle impacted.

Check out the ratings for the IIHS in our next blog.