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When Buying a Car – Safety Matters

IIHS-crash-testOne of the most important concerns of a typical car shopper is the safety of the vehicle, and you probably feel the same way.  While we all know that each new vehicle must meet certain federal safety standards, it's also true that not all cars are rated the same in the safety department. 

It also does not mean that insurance companies give all vehicles the same rating, thus your insurance policy premiums will vary by the make and model the of car you select.  Your car's safety rating impacts  your insurance rate, and each car model’s insurance loss experience is different.  Visit the Highway Loss Data Institute online to see a list of insurance losses by make and model to see the experience rating for the vehicles you are considering as you decide on a new car.

So if you are in the market for a new vehicle, the following safety features will be important: 


Compare the rating of crashworthiness forthose automobiles that interest you when you visit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Don't forget to check out the current year’s Top Safety Picks while visiting the site.  There you will find a list of the safest vehicles according to their performance in the IIHS crash studies. Perhaps surprisingly, you’ll find that more smaller vehicles ranked well on the list than ever before.

Vehicle structural design

For the safety of the passengers, a car must have a strong “safety cage” (the interior compartment where occupants are seated). Otherwise, it cannot withstand forces from the roof and both sides as well as the back and front.  Moreover, both the front and rear of the vehicle must be designs so that it absorbs the crash impact, deflecting the forces away from the safety cage.  Find out how these strengths are tested by the IIHS.

Vehicle size and weight

The laws of physics dictate that larger and heavier cars are safer than lighter and smaller ones.  In fact, David Zuby, chief research officer at IIHS, points out that the laws of physics dictate that larger and heavier cars are safer than lighter and smaller ones. Thus, passengers in smaller, lighter vehicles are. By comparison,  not as well protected as those in larger, heavier models.   In a crash involving a smaller and a larger vehicle, the larger (thus heavier) vehicle will drive the lighter one backwards. This action causes the forces inside the heavier car to be less while that inside the lighter car is greater. While this is generally true, small cars are becoming more crashworthy each year; and, in 2012, 8 of the 13 models tested made the list of Top Safety Picks.

Restraint Systems

Seatbelts, head restraints and airbags work as a system with the structure of a vehicle to protect its occupants if a crash occurs. Shoulder belts allow upper body movement during normal driving but will lock on impact or during hard braking. Lap/shoulder belts work together with airbags very effectively.. Side airbags are designed principally to protect your upper body, and may also prevent your head from hitting interior structures. Head restraints are required to be installed on the front seats of all new passenger cars to prevent your head from snapping backwards in a rear-end crash.

Anti-lock Brakes

Anti-lock brakes pump brakes automatically many times a second to prevent the lockup and loss of control that occurs when braking hard with conventional brakes.

Daytime running lights

These lights can prevent daytime accidents by making the vehicle more visible to oncoming driver.

If you are in the market for a new car, consider sitting down with your insurance agent to discuss how your favorite makes and models might impact the insurance rates you’ll pay before you sign that purchase agreement at the dealership.

Here at Craig Mader Insurance Agency, we have the experience to help you explore your auto insurance options at your convenience.  Why not contact us today?

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Sources:  Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS); Insurance Information Institute (III)


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