Safe Cars Save Lives

Car Safety Resources

Safe cars reduce injuries and fatalities in auto accidents. A little knowledge can go a long way toward protecting you and your family from serious injuries or death in a car crash. Accidents happen and the type of car you drive plays an important role in keeping you and your loved ones safe.

Crash Tests and Safety Ratings

  • SaferCar.gov provides consumers with vehicle safety information, five-star safety ratings, front and side crash rating results, even recently rollover ratings, to aid consumers in their vehicle purchase decisions.

  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) — Independent, nonprofit, scientific and educational organization that tests and rates crash performance of new cars. Test results are often featured on national news networks. Good resource for car safety information. Free search of vehicle crash ratings in frontal, side-impact and rear-end crash tests.

  • Consumer Reports — Published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. Subscription site allows search of vehicle ratings that include safety ratings as well as vehicle performance and reliability ratings.

Safety Features You Should Have on Your Next Vehicle

  • Electronic stability control (ESC) — One of the most significant advances in crash prevention, which has been on the market since 1995, is Electronic Stability Control (ESC). ESC, known by a host of names like StabiliTrak, Vehicle Stability Control, Electronic Stability Program, etc., work by using ABS brakes as a foundation and with the addition of sensors measure steering wheel angle, yaw rate, acceleration and turning force. Software algorithms interpret the sensor data and determine whether the vehicle is traveling the way it should given the driver input. If not, the system automatically activates the brakes on one or more wheels or activates the throttle slightly to bring the car back in line. Analysis of recent real-world data shows significant reductions in single car crashes for vehicles with ESC. Do not buy an SUV without ESC. For a list of vehicles equipped with ESC, visit this page at SaferCar.gov.

  • Side curtain air bags with head protection — Head SABs are usually mounted in the roof rail above the side windows and are designed to help protect an adult's head in a side-impact crash. There are two types of head SABs: curtain SABs and tubular SABs. Typically, curtain SABs help protect both front and rear occupants in a side-impact crash; some may also provide protection from ejection if your car rolls over after being struck on the side. Head/chest combination ("combo") SABs are usually mounted in the side of the seat and are typically larger than chest (or torso) SABs. Combo SABs are designed to help protect both the head and chest of an adult.

  • Properly adjusted head restraints — What many motorists refer to as a headrest is actually a head restraint. It is a common misconception that a restraint is a comfort feature. Head restraints are installed in vehicles for safety purposes and are an essential safety feature like lap/shoulder belts. Effective head restraints reduce the rearward motion of an occupant's head in a rear-end crash and decrease the likelihood of sustaining a whiplash injury. After years of neglect, improved head restraints are beginning to appear on the market. Some auto manufacturers include head restraints that automatically adjust position when the seat is adjusted. Tall occupants who adjust a seat rearward to gain legroom also gain the added protection of a higher head restraint. Other manufacturers have incorporated active systems that automatically improve head restraint position during a crash. To reduce the likelihood of sustaining a whiplash injury in a crash, head restraints should be positioned high enough to protect the head so as to minimize neck distortion. The top of the head restraint should be positioned at least level with the top of the ears or about 3.5 inches below the top of the head. The distance from the back of the head to the restraint should be as small as possible, preferably less than 4 inches. Because people differ in height, the amount of adjustment varies. For some occupants, no adjustment from the lowest position is required.

Personal Injury Lawyers Fighting for a Safer Iowa

  • Report Problems or Vehicle Defects — Go to the NHTSA Office of Defects Investigation to report safety problems with your vehicle. Complaint information will be entered into NHTSA's vehicle owner's complaint database and used with other complaints to determine if a safety-related defect trend exists. If a safety-related defect exists in a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment, the manufacturer must fix it at no cost to the owner. Your complaint is the first step in the process. Government engineers analyze the problem. If warranted, the manufacturer is asked to conduct a recall. If the manufacturer does not initiate a recall, the government can order the manufacturer to initiate a recall. NHTSA does not have to receive a specific number of complaints before looking into a problem. They gather all available information on a problem. Your complaint is important. For more information on NHTSA's defect and recall program. To find out if your vehicle has been recalled for a safety defect, visit here.