Most people in California have heard vehicle manufacturers talk about their products' safety ratings, often touting them in advertisements, on their websites or in other marketing campaigns. Consumers who are very conscious about safety should understand what goes into identifying these ratings so they can fully assess them when considering their next car, truck or SUV purchase.
Consumer Reports explains that crash tests are conducted by both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In these tests, they measure a vehicle's ability to withstand rollovers. Also evaluated are a vehicle's rear blind spots, ability to avoid an accident and the presence of advanced safety features like cameras or lane departure warnings.
According to Business Insider, a total of six crash tests are used to determine a final safety rating for each vehicle. The grades include poor, marginal, acceptable and good. The tests include one focused on whiplash, one on roof strength, one on a side impact and three on front impacts. Impacts from the front are the most fatal.
Dummies in crash tests have greasepaint on certain spots to indicate any contact made with a surface. They also feature sensors that can measure the impact of the crash. The passenger area is referred to as the survival space and any impact on this area in the test is factored into the overall rating. Two other factors used to develop a rating include the seat belt's ability to keep the dummy in the seat and the speed at which the airbag deploys.