Safety: Those Crash Test Dummies Give Their Lives For You
Ever wonder how safe your car really is? Consumer Reports has added a new video feature to its auto site that goes beyond simple ratings to show how vehicles perform in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's crash tests. The crash test videos are quite interesting; they utilize the official footage from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and show the front offset and side impact crashes in slow motion, then Deputy Editor Online Jeff Bartlett explains in detail the strengths and weaknesses displayed by each vehicle.
ConsumerReports.org launched the Flash-video-based crash test center with the 100 vehicles prioritized by those most often researched on the site, and plan to grow that number significantly in the weeks ahead. It presents a well-rounded collection of mainstream popular coupes, sedans, minivans, trucks, and sport/utility vehicles from Acura to Volvo; users can pick the crash they want to view using a collection of year/make/model pulldowns. Flash is a pretty universal method for serving video these days, so it's easy to use; if you have any trouble viewing, you might just need to install a simple plugin.
Jeff says "After watching a few videos, it's clear even those earning the highest rating of "Good" look frightening in the tests. Watching the slow-motion action and hearing the commentary makes real the potential health risk drivers face on the road and the importance of buying a vehicle with proven protection, and driving safely." He's right. The videos are scary. Even inside the "Good" vehicles, the crash test dummies bounce around like ragdolls, leaving paint marks on the vehicle wherever their heads happen to bash into a surface. One of the poor vehicles actually folds in half after impact. After watching these, "drive safely" seems like an understatement.
According to CR, The IIHS front-crash test highlights the vehicle's structural integrity and restraint performance. The crash simulates what would happen if two cars of the same weight and type crashed head-on, left headlight to left headlight. The vehicle is crashed at 40 mph into a deformable barrier so that only the left front of the car hits the barrier. An instrument-equipped crash dummy in the driver's seat records forces to the head and neck, chest, legs, and feet. Vehicles are rated as Good, Acceptable, Marginal, or Poor based on what happens to vehicle structure, as well as forces on the dummies. What makes these videos especially meaningful is Jeff's commentary that points out important aspects of each vehicle's results.
In addition to these crash tests, ConsumerReports.org offers some very informative feature stories to assist in researching a vehicle's crash safety value, starting right here: "Crash test 101: How crash worthiness is measured and how crash ratings can help you choose your next car" This article is several pages long, with an index in the upper left-hand corner that links in several important topics, including explanations of the NHTSA crash tests, explanations of the IIHS crash tests, explanations that go behind the ratings, and how to use this information to help you to choose your next car. Complete IIHS and NHTSA crash test data, as well as their own test results,
are available to online subscribers in the model overview pages.
Safety is important to all of us women, but even more so when we're toting around precious cargo - like children. Tools like these can ensure you're well informed when researching your next purchase.
-- by Brandy A. Schaffels