Crashtest.com: Introduction to Auto Safety & Crash Testing


Author: Lowell Steiger

Published On: October 8, 2007

Road traffic accidents kill more than one million people a year, injuring another thirty-eight million (5 million of them seriously). The death toll on the world’s roadways makes driving the number one cause of death and injury for young people ages 15 to 44.

How safe is that new or used vehicle you’re thinking of purchasing? With the introduction of airbags and crash-testing, the number of people killed and injured by motor vehicles has decreased in many countries. International NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) ratings provide a useful basis for comparing vehicle safety. Let’s see what international safety information is currently available.

In the United States – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)provides safety information for a large number of vehicles through their New Car Assessment Program (US-NCAP), using an outdated crash-testing procedure and featuring only vehicles built after 1994. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) does its own testing for the insurance industry, but data is only available for a few late-model vehicles.

In Europe – the FIA crashtests Europe’s most popular models for the European NCAP, but tests only a small number of vehicles each year. Pedestrians and bicyclists are much more vulnerable than vehicle occupants when a crash occurs. The European NCAP’s pedestrian evaluation tests the most hazardous areas of each model. Currently, no legislation exists that forces a manufacturer to comply with the EuroNCAP pedestrian guidelines, so we have not included them in our ratings.

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport magazine sponsors crash-tests of a small number of European cars but permits only subscribers to access the information.

In Australia – the NRMA tests vehicles for the Australian NCAP (ANCAP) and has recently adopted the Euro-NCAP testing procedures (they formerly used NHTSA test procedures).

In Japan – the National Organization for Automotive Safety & Victims’ Aid (OSA)sponsors Japanese NCAP tests (full-frontal, frontal offset, and side impact) on the most popular Japanese home-market vehicles.

For the first time ever, all international crash-test results are available from one source. Crashtest.com makes it easy for people around the world to examine the safety of any motor vehicle they’re interested in, whether new or used. Our simple rating system make it easy to interpret the confusing tests and results found on other sites. We include insurance information detailing how safe your next vehicle purchase may be in real-world situations. Most new and used cars, trucks, vans, and sports utility vehicles (SUVs) have been rated. Using our compare feature, models from two different manufacturers can be viewed at the same time to see how their safety statistics measure up to one another.

Overall Ratings – Crashtest.com evaluates all the available data on a specific vehicle and assigns it 1 of 5 possible performance ratings. The overall rating is not simply an average of the other scores, because certain categories count more from a safety point of view.

The most significant safety determinant, worth as much as all the others put together, is Weight. It is so important that it would overwhelm all other factors if included in the assessment, so we do not include it in our overall rating. However we strongly recommend that you note BOTH of the last 2 rating categories Weight and Overall, when you consider the ultimate crashworthiness of a particular model.

A Warning – According to the World Health Organization, road traffic accidents kill more than one million people a year, injuring another thirty-eight million (5 million of them seriously). Automobiles must take the majority of the blame for this tranportation apocalypse, but bicycles, buses, motorcycles, and trucks all share some of the responsiblity. The death toll on the world’s roadways makes driving the number one cause of death and injury for young people ages 15 to 44.

With the introduction of airbags and crash-testing, the number of people killed and injured by motor vehicles decreases every year in most of the world’s richest nations. Unfortunately the numbers are steadily increasing in the Third World. Automobiles must take the majority of the blame for this tranportation apocalypse, but bicycles, buses, motorcycles, and trucks all share some of the responsiblity.

The vast majority (88%) of road traffic injuries and fatalities already occur in the world’s poorest countries (see chart). WHO and World Bank reports predict an oncoming transportation apocalypse. Deaths from road traffic injuries are expected to rise by over 75% in the next 20 years.

Burdgeoning economies will help to increase the the numbers of registered vehicles in the world’s emerging nations. Unfortunately for them, more cars will mean more injuries and death. Third World countries would surely benefit from mandatory airbag and structural safety regulations which have proved incredibly beneficial in Europe and the United States. Unfortunately motor vehicle safety is usually a low or non-existant priority in low-income countries. Vehicle manufacturers must take the initiative in providing safety systems as standard equipment on all motor vehicles sold in the Third World.

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