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Vehicles and Equipment Safety Search: A Guide

American auto manufacturers must market safe vehicles. This means the cars and their components are not defective. It also means they manufacture the vehicles correctly. Unfortunately, there are times when a car, truck, or SUV hits the road with safety defects.

When this happens, vehicle occupants end up getting hurt in traffic accidents. It's essential that you thoroughly research the type of vehicle you want to buy before heading to the dealership. Automotive safety is paramount if you have children to protect.

Here, we'll discuss common safety feature defects in passenger vehicles. We'll also explain how you can check to see how safe your new car is. This includes such things as accident fatalities, rollover incidents, and seat belt injuries.

In this section, you can research vehicle safety, crash test ratings, crashworthiness, airbag safety information, and new safety devices. Use the links below from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and to find the safest car for your family.

Vehicle Safety and Crash Tests and Collision Prevention

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a non-profit organization that conducts safety tests on new and existing vehicles. The organization primarily aims to reduce vehicle fatalities and increase car safety.

The IIHS also strives to pressure automakers to implement safety systems that meet and exceed NHTSA safety standards. Depending on the type of test you're looking for, the organization's website offers data from the 1990s.

The IIHS performs four main types of crash tests on passenger cars:

  • Frontal crash prevention systems
  • Headlights
  • Seat belt reminder systems
  • Child seat attachment hardware (LATCH)

The IIHS also tests for side impact in vehicle crashes. It also checks if the motor vehicle has safety control systems, such as lane departure warnings and an automatic emergency braking system.

The factors IIHS engineers consider include:

  • Injury measures
  • Structure and safety cage
  • Restraint systems and crash test dummy movement

In 2021, the IIHS changed its testing procedures and adopted its "New Car Assessment Program." They increased the severity of test crashes. For example, they intentionally use driver blind spots during pedestrian accident tests. They also started using more realistic barriers in their testing.

You can visit the IIHS website to see how different cars scored on their tests.

Other Components of the NHTSA and IIHS Test

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and IIHS test vehicles and automotive components for safety. When you buy a car, you can check how these organizations rated the passenger vehicle.

Some components these organizations rate include the following types of safety technology:

  • Antilock braking system (ABS)
  • Electronic stability control (ESC)
  • Shoulder belts
  • Turn signals
  • Warning systems
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Forward collision warning
  • Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)
  • Brake assist
  • Airbags

NHTSA and IIHS aren't the only entities that test vehicles for road safety. For example, companies like J.D. Power rate vehicles for safety and publish their findings annually. They test new cars made by companies such as Ford, Honda, Chrysler, and Volvo.

Tire Safety

If your tires aren't working correctly, there's a good chance you'll get into an accident. At a minimum, you could find yourself stranded on the side of the road. Sometimes, you encounter issues with your tires because you didn't have a mechanic rotate them. Or they may need air.

Other times, you may experience problems with defective tires. Keep an eye out for tire recalls. If you bought a car with faulty tires, the auto manufacturer must replace or repair them free of charge.

Airbag and Safety Belt Safety

Defective airbags cause thousands of injuries every year. When you're considering buying a new vehicle, check to see if there have been any airbag recalls. Airbags are standard equipment on passenger vehicles today. You shouldn't have problems finding information about their safety and effectiveness online.

Safety belts are also a standard feature on new cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Of course, a seatbelt can only keep you safe if you wear it. But you must review recent safety ratings for your car's front and rear seat restraints.

Headlights and Other Vision Components

The IIHS conducts tests on passenger vehicle headlights. They ensure that all models of new cars have functioning headlights. They also test to see if a car's headlights illuminate the road enough for the driver to see near and far.

You can search online for recent data on your car's headlights, rear-view mirrors, and other vision components.


If your brakes don't work correctly, you risk getting into a severe accident. This requires more than having your brakes checked periodically. You must ensure that you review your vehicle's safety ratings to see if there are issues with its brakes.

There are various components to your braking system. These components include:

  • Calipers
  • Brakes
  • Rotors
  • Brake pads

There are also lines carrying brake fluid to your brakes. If they don't all work properly, your brakes will fail, and you may crash into another car, a tree, or other barriers.

Child Seats

NHTSA performs rigorous testing on child seats. They test them for:

  • Ease of use
  • Safety
  • Protection

NHTSA gives each child seat one to five stars based on how they rate them.

You can visit the NHTSA website for ratings of popular car seat manufacturers. You can also visit the manufacturer's website to see how many stars the organization gave their products.

Consumer Reports also provides valuable information on child seats. You can also find information on vehicle safety and recalls there as well.

What To Do if You Suffer an Injury From a Defective Vehicle

You have options if you or your loved one are in an accident due to a safety defect in your vehicle. Meet with an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your legal rights. You may have a legal claim against your car's manufacturer.

Visit's product liability attorney directory to find a lawyer near you.

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