The reality is that even the safest, most defensive drivers can’t always avoid accidents on US roads. Accidents happen, and when they do, the crash ratings of the vehicle are put to the test. When buying new cars, savvy shoppers look at the safety ratings, either online ( is an excellent tool) or at the dealership. Based on a 5-star rating scale, the more stars the safer the vehicle, but many people are unaware of what they actually mean.

In the first section, we’ve broken down the different tests the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) use to grade each vehicle and then assign the rating based on those grades. The second section outlines the more common smart car technologies that make equipped vehicles more adept at avoiding accidents.

Here’s what they test and how they test it:

Accident Testing

Fontal – Represents head-on crashes between two similar vehicles with the same weight, or a vehicle crashing into a fixed barrier at 35 mph.

Side barrier – Represents an intersection type collision or a 3,015 lb. moving barrier crashing into a standing vehicle at 38.5 mph.

Side pole – Represents an accident between a vehicle and a pole with the vehicle angled at 75 degrees crashing sideways into a 25cm diameter pole at the driver’s seating location.

Rollover – Simulates a vehicle losing control on a sharp curve at 55 mph and the vehicle leaves the road and rolls over.

As technology improves, so do the smart features vehicles use to keep us safe. These are the more common smart car features:

Smart Car Features

Rearview video system – Standard in all vehicles as of May 2018 and newer. Commonly referred to as a backup camera, this safety technology provides an image of the area behind the vehicle, helping the driver to see behind the vehicle.

Electronic stability control – Standard in all vehicles year 2011 and newer. Helps drivers maintain control of their vehicle during extreme steering maneuvers.

Forward collision warning – Forward-looking sensors warn the driver of an impending collision so the driver can brake or steer to avoid the collision.

Lane departure warning – Advanced safety technology that alerts drivers when they unintentionally drift out of their lanes without a turn signal.

Dynamic brake support – Also known as brake assist, which supplements the driver’s braking to avoid a crash.

Crash imminent braking – Also known as automatic emergency braking, which, if the driver takes no action to avoid the crash, automatically applies the vehicle’s brakes to slow or stop the car.

Even a vehicle with pristine crash ratings can’t always protect you when the negligence of another driver causes an accident. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you deserve fair compensation. An experienced attorney from Craig Swapp & Associates is ready to help you receive what you deserve. You don’t have to fight the insurance companies on your own, call us at 1-800-404-9000 or fill out the online form at the bottom of this page.

Written By: Ryan Swapp     Legal Review By: Craig Swapp