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How Are Cars Tested for Safety?

person buckling in seat belt

Cars must be tested for safety before they are released to the market. Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that their products are safe for consumers to use, and testing is the best way to identify any potential problems. Third-party agencies also conduct their own safety testing. By spending the time and resources to test cars thoroughly, manufacturers and separate entities can help to prevent accidents and injuries.

Who Performs the Safety Tests?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) are the two prominent organizations that perform crash tests in the United States. NHTSA is a federal agency that is part of the Department of Transportation, while IIHS is a nonprofit organization funded by insurance companies. Although both groups have different methods of conducting their tests, they generally agree on which vehicles are the safest.

Note: The NHTSA and IIHS do not perform safety tests on all makes and models of vehicles. High-end luxury vehicles, like Rolls Royce or Maserati, may not be tested by these two agencies. The manufacturers themselves, however, conduct their own testing.

What Types of Tests are Performed?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) both perform crash tests on new vehicles. These tests assess the safety of a vehicle in the event of an accident. However, the IIHS also performs crash avoidance tests. These tests evaluate a vehicle's ability to avoid or mitigate an accident.

Crash Tests

In order to ensure the safety of car occupants, manufacturers subject their vehicles to a variety of crash tests. By performing these crash tests, manufacturers can ensure that their vehicles will offer a high level of protection in the event of a real-world collision.

Frontal Impact Test - The test is typically conducted by crashing a dummy car into a solid wall at a specific speed and angle. Data from the test is then used to assess the effectiveness of the vehicle's safety features, such as airbags and seat belts.

Side Impact Test - The test is designed to simulate a side-on collision with another vehicle or object, such as a tree or utility pole. The results of the side impact test are used to assess the effectiveness of the vehicle's safety systems (in addition to airbags and seatbelts), such as the door beams.

Rollover Test - The test involves flipping the vehicle onto its side or roof and then measuring how well it protects the occupants. The purpose of the test is to see if the roof crushes inwards, which would indicate a weakness in the structure of the car. If the roof does not crush, it means that the vehicle is more likely to withstand the force of a rollover and protect its occupants from serious injury.

Crash Avoidance Tests

Crash avoidance tests are designed to assess a vehicle's ability to reduce the risk of a collision. Such tests may be conducted under controlled conditions in a laboratory or on a test track, or they may be performed in the field under real-world conditions. The IIHS performs crash avoidance tests for safety features, including:

  • Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)
  • Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW)

To receive a superior rating, a system must avoid or mitigate a crash in each test and must significantly reduce crash speeds in the track tests. Additionally, the IIHS evaluates systems that combine AEB with FCW or LDW.

Durham, North Carolina Car Accident Attorneys

Car accidents are a leading cause of personal injury in the United States. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries if you have been involved in a car accident. The car accident attorneys at Wallace Pierce Law can help you recover damages for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We will work tirelessly to secure the maximum possible compensation for your claim.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident that was not your fault, call us today at (919) 887-7892 or fill out our form online!

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