The National Security Council estimates that 40,000 people died in auto accidents last year, a six percent increase from 2015. With Colorado’s numbers paralleling the national trend, here’s how to ensure you’re choosing the safest vehicle possible.

How to Find Out the Truth About Vehicle Safety Ratings

September is one of the most popular months for buying a vehicle, followed by December, according to Edmunds. While you may have your eye on a specific vehicle, you must ask yourself, have you done enough research on the car to ensure that it’s safe?

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) not only encourages consumers to educate themselves before purchasing a vehicle, but they have made it easy for consumers to do so by developing their 5-Star Safety Ratings Program.

Decades of Safety Testing

For nearly 40 years now, NHTSA has been testing and reviewing the safety of vehicles purchased in the United States. Through its 5-Star Safety Ratings Program, NHTSA provides safety ratings for every vehicle so consumers can become educated before they buy. The 5-Star program also encourages manufacturers to willingly design safer vehicles.

The stars are based on an evaluation of how well the vehicle performs in the event of a car accident. The tests NHTSA performs in its 5-Star Program are:

  • Frontal Crash Test – this test imitates a head-on collision.
  • Side Barrier Crash Test – this test looks at the safety of a crash where a vehicle slams into the driver’s side of the vehicle.
  • Side Pole Crash Test – this test involves a crash where a car begins sliding sideways on a roadway and crashes into a telephone pole on the driver’s side.
  • Rollover Resistance Test – this test looks specifically at SUVs moving at 55 mph when suddenly the driver loses control and begins to roll over.

When it comes to car types, NHTSA reviews everything from mini cars, those weighing less than 2000 lbs, and compact vehicles to sedans, SUVs, and pickup trucks. If you want to compare different vehicles before you buy, you can do a side-by-side review with up to three vehicles on the NHTSA ratings site. The review can be done on new cars or those dating back as far as 1990.

Despite Safety Concerns, Car Accidents Continue to Kill Thousands

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 2016 was the deadliest year on U.S. roads in nearly a decade, as reported by Kristen Korosec of NSC estimates that 40,000 people died in car accidents last year, a six percent increase from 2015. There was also a significant increase in fatal car accidents in Colorado last year.

600 people died on Colorado roads in 2016, an 11 percent increase from the previous year. Despite all the work put into securing vehicles, officials say it’s disappointing to see the number of fatal crashes continue to rise. In Colorado, officials say while they can’t completely identify an exact cause for the increase in fatal crashes, they do say human error is most likely to blame, namely, distracted driving, impaired driving and a lack of seatbelt use.

Vehicles today have more built-in safety features than ever before and yet the danger of car crashes, accidents, and wrecks remain. Human error will always play a role in making the roadways dangerous, so take care when you drive.

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