How to Research Car Safety

TRED knows it’s one of the most important factors that are included in car shopping… Car safety.  Whether you are shopping safety ratings to protect you children or yourself there are a lot of stars, acronyms, and safety features to consider.  Luckily the folks over at are a group of thinkers and have put together an excellent resource for getting down to the nitty-gritty when it comes to automotive safety.

Basically, there are two major organizations in car safety:

NHTSA – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

  1. Government funded organization
  2. 5-star rating system (tests became more rigorous in 2011 to include new crashes and high-tech dummies)
  3. 2012 crash tests covered 81% of American cars sold (92% for rollover tests)
  4. Crash performance categories: overall, frontal, side, rollover

IIHS – Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

  1. Nonprofit organization funded by auto insurance companies and associations
  2. Worded/color-coded rating system: good (green), acceptable (yellow), marginal (orange), poor (red)
  3. Issues ‘Top Safety Pick’ awards every year
  4. Crash performance categories: frontal offset, roof strength, side impact, rear crash protection/head restraint

Now that we’ve got the basic differences out of the way here are some super useful links for car safety research:

NHTSA Safety Ratings – has star ratings going back to 1990

2011 Test Changes for the NHTSA – discusses why, what, and how of the new testing procedures

IIHS Safety Ratings – has ratings going back to 1997

Difference between Organizations

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety – alternate organization and source for safety issues and concerns





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