Buying a safe car

Price, gas mileage, performance features and color are just a few factors buyers look for when shopping for a new vehicle. But safety should never be overlooked when comparing vehicles.

All vehicles must meet federal safety standards, but some manufacturers include additional safety features that make them safer than others. The Insurance Information Institute recommends considering the following when shopping for a new or used car or truck:

  • Crashworthiness: Ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's website can help determine how the vehicle and passengers would fare in a crash.
  • Structural design: A strong safety cage and front and rear ends designed to buckle and bend to absorb the force of a crash help decrease the chance of injury.
  • Vehicle size and weight: Larger and heavier cars are safer than lighter and smaller cars. In a collision, heavier vehicles push lighter ones backwards, decreasing the forces inside the heavier car and increasing them in the lighter car.
  • Restraint system: Belts, airbags and head restraints work with a vehicle's structure to protect you in a serious crash by reducing your chances of hitting something hard or being ejected from the car.
  • Safety features: Anti-lock brakes help you keep steering control by automatically pumping rapidly instead of locking up when you brake too hard for conditions. Daytime running lights help make your vehicle more visible to oncoming drivers.
  • Driving experience: Avoid letting teens drive unsafe vehicles, such as those with high-performance engines or those prone to rolling over.