Perhaps the most important thing to consider when purchasing a car is safety. Fortunately, automobiles are safer now than ever before. There are two organizations that focus on grading each specific vehicle on their safety: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
To check a vehicle’s safety ratings, you could simply visit the websites of both the NHTSA and the IIHS. The NHTSA is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, with their five-star rating decided on front and side-crash tests, rollover tests, and quality and performance. The IIHS top safety award is the Top Safety Pick, based on numerous tests, including front and side-crash tests, rollover tests, roof strength, and head restraint tests. The IIHS is an independent and nonprofit group and classify each car’s safety ratings with poor, marginal or acceptable, or good.
Both the NHTSA and IIHS tests available vehicles on the market for how certain features would reach in the event of an accident, combining all these features together and how they perform contribute to their overall grade. Some of the common vehicle features that are checked by these safety groups include:
- Airbags: Airbags have played a crucial role in vehicle safety since they were federally required. They act as a cushion between the passenger and the interior of the car, deploying in less than a second when the vehicle detects impact. When combined with a seat belt, they drastically reduce the chances of suffering a serious injury or death. The highest safety ratings generally go to vehicles that have front, curtain, knee, or side airbags.
- Anti-lock braking systems: Anti-lock braking (ABS) systems engage when the driver is in an emergency braking situation, as it prevents the vehicle from skidding. The ABS system also keeps the steering wheel from freezing when the brakes are applied.
- Accident avoidance: Not just one particular system, accident avoidance is a combination of different parts of the car working cohesively to avoid a crash.
- Electronic stability control: Electronic stability control is a system that initiates when the driver has to perform an emergency maneuver and quickly swerve to avoid a hazard in the road.
- Rear-impact protection: Both the IIHS and the NHTSA test a vehicle’s ability to withstand a rear-end collision. Although they are rarely fatal, rear-end collision do cause injuries to the head, neck, and back, and they can be serious. The head restraints of each vehicle is tested to see how they protect against whiplash and similar injuries.
- Seat belts: Wearing your seat belt is one of the best ways to protect yourself from serious injury or death during a car accident. According to data from the NHTSA, in almost half of vehicle fatalities every year, the deceased were not wearing their seat belts. Crash tests examine how effective each individual car’s seat belts are when being used in an accident situation.
- Rollover protection: Many drivers today prefer the height of taller vehicles such as SUVs, minivans, and pickup trucks. However, because their center of gravity is higher, they have an increased chance of tipping over or rolling over in an accident. Both the NHTSA and IIHS test a vehicle’s rollover resistance and will not recommend a vehicle if their resistance is low.
- Roof strength: Roof strength is an important feature of a vehicle. A vehicle’s roof is tested to make sure it can withstand it’s own weight should the vehicle roll onto its roof. If the roof collapses, it can crush the passengers inside, leading to serious injury or death.
The modern vehicle has a combination of active and passive safety features. Features such as forward-collision warning, blind-spot warning, and similar technologies all work together with seat belts and airbags to make the modern car safer than they have ever been.
The IIHS rate their vehicles by some advanced features, such as traction control or automated braking. However, they do not include features like lane-keeping assist or blind-spot warnings.
The NHTSA make some advanced features mandatory on vehicles. Front safety belts have been mandatory since the 1960s, while airbags have been required since the late 1990s. Today, tire pressure monitoring systems, traction control, electronic stability control, and other features are now mandatory.
What to Do Following a New Jersey Car Accident?
No matter how safe your car is, an accident can still occur. It is best to know what to do after a car crash:
- Check for injuries: Check yourself and your passengers for any injuries, and call 911 immediately. If you are seriously injured, stay put and wait for emergency responders.
- Get to safety: If you are able to, move to the side of the road away from traffic. If your car is still drivable, pull over to where it is safe so it is not a hazard to others. If you cannot, just leave it where it is and get to safety.
- Call 911: Calling 911 is important and is legally required in most states. The officer responding to the scene will fill out a report which will detail the events and have the accounts of those involved, as well as any witness accounts. A police report is important to have, especially when filing an insurance claim.
- Exchange information: Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver when possible. Make sure to get their policy number, their driver’s license number, as well as their license plate. Keep the conversation to a minimum, and do not admit fault to anyone, even the police.
- Gather evidence: Get a copy of the police report, and take pictures and video of the scene for your own records. Be thorough in your pictures, especially the damage to the vehicles and if there are any injuries.
- Start a claim: New Jersey is a no-fault insurance state, meaning that regardless of who caused the car accident, each driver would go to their own insurance carrier for coverage. You could only sue the other driver in certain circumstances, such as if your injury expenses exceed your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.
Monmouth County Car Accident Lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova Help Accident Survivors Who Have Been Injured by Reckless Drivers
Even with the safest car available, you still have a chance of getting into a car accident. If you have been injured in accident, contact one of our Monmouth County car accident lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova. Call us at 732-705-3363 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Hazlet and Highland Park, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients in Ocean County, Sussex County, Neptune, Middlesex County, and Pennsylvania.