The NHTSA’s New Star Safety Rating System Explained

If you are considering purchasing a new car, chances are that you are aware of the high number of auto wrecks that regularly occur on roadways in and around Fort Worth, Arlington and Keller, so it is important to pick a car which can effectively protect you and your family in the event of a traffic crash.

The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) has developed a new assessment program for new cars and trucks in 2011 as rollover accidents and both head-on and side collisions continue to count as significant contributors to vehicular fatalities in Texas. The revamped star safety ratings differ from previous incarnations, however, so here is some useful information before you start shopping:

You can't compare this year's ratings to last year's.

As consumers increasingly demand safer vehicles, the automakers have largely responded, which is a good thing, but the previous rankings did little to help the public make the distinction between "good" and "better" vehicles. The new system is designed to give a clearer spread across models. Vehicles earning just 1 or 2 stars present a greater-than-average risk of injury; 3 stars is average to greater-than-average; 4 stars is average to less-than-average; and 5 stars is the best with a much less than average risk.

Star ratings are different for different weight classes.
Although the new system is designed to give a clearer impression of the overall rankings, there are still going to be differences between a small hatchback awarded 5 stars, for example, and a 5-star SUV. Larger cars are generally safer, so it's important to remember that the number of stars are only comparable to other cars within the same class.

There are a lot of things not taken into consideration.

Although the new star system is intended to make things clearer for consumers, there are still some safety aspects which are not reflected in the rankings. Included safety equipment is not taken into consideration, for example, and neither is accident avoidance. It is up to you, the consumer, to test drive the vehicle yourself to judge how it handles and whether it feels safe, and to do additional research to find out what equipment is included or isn't. Additionally, since the new tests and ranking are being used for the first time in 2011, there are a lot of vehicles which have not yet been tested for the new star system. The NHTSA is giving priority to vehicles that sell in high numbers, so if you're considering buying a luxury or sports model, it probably hasn't been tested.

Mark Anderson has been helping people hurt in traffic crashes across the DFW area since 1991. His book, 15 Mistakes That Could Wreck Your Texas Accident Case, is offered free to personal injury victims and their families. To request your complimentary copy of the book, or to schedule a no fee, no obligation consultation call toll free at 800-354-MARK (6275) or locally in Fort Worth at 817-294-1900.

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