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Shopping for car safety

It’s a top priority for many parents buying cars

Look at the entities who evaluate safety

In the U.S., there are two organizations that test and rate vehicles for safety: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS).

The NHTSA is a federal government agency that conducts crash testing of new vehicles using a five-star rating system. They test for front and side-impact, as well as rollover testing on SUVs and pick-ups. Their mission is to keep Americans safe on roadways.

The IIHS is an independent nonprofit agency founded by major insurance companies. You might recognize them as the entity behind Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+. The IIHS also performs rigorous crash testing of vehicles, as well as crash avoidance and technology that prevents injury.

Both safety agencies have their nuances. For instance, the U.S. News & World Report points out, “the NHTSA’s rollover test evaluates a vehicle’s resistance to flipping over. The IIHS rollover test, meanwhile, evaluates roof strength, should a rollover actually occur.” For consumers, it means looking at data from both entities when making a buying decision.

Consider at your family’s unique needs

The number of family members, including beloved dogs or other pets, should be factored in. Choose a vehicle that you as a driver feel comfortable operating. If you don’t like the feeling of a car with a longer body style (or vice versa), then it’s not for you. Also take into account how the driver’s seat feels, the positioning of the dashboard.

Many moms are familiar with the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, which are the built-in attachments for children’s car seats. While new cars have them, they are different to find and use in each vehicle. Bring your child’s car seat while car shopping, so you can feel comfortable using what you’re buying. As with any safety system, it’s only as good as the way it’s properly used.

Newer cars are safer

Newer cars will have better safety features, as they are built upon years of data and research. Safety requirements also increase, such as electronic stability control systems required in vehicles since 2011 and rearview video backup systems since 2018.

A few of many safety features

The lists are long and detailed, which is great for anyone who loves to research. A few of the newer ones include:

Numerous airbags

While dual front airbags are now required by law in passenger vehicles, the side airbags are technically optional. But there are many more, such as knee, side and curtain airbags. You’ll find new mid-size cars with upwards of 10 airbags.

Adaptive headlights

Sometimes called smart headlights, they adjust in shape, brightness and direction without blinding oncoming traffic.

Electronic Stability Control

Sensors to avoid or control skidding, sliding and rollovers

Collision avoidance systems

Using radar and camera systems, these offer lane-departure warning, blind-spot detection, collision warnings and parking assistance. They may take some getting used to, so give yourself time to learn them.


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Meet Laura Augustine

Laura Augustine has worked as a finance assistant at Capitol Auto Group for 7 years. She is the proud mom of three kids (four, if you count her husband Chad): Ariel, age 23; Claudia, age 22; and Bryson, age 18. As a family, they love to go fishing and boating at Detroit Lake, and they also have four Saint Bernard Dogs: Grace, Ted, Jerry and Stuart.


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