Researching the Safest Cars

Are you in the market for a new or used vehicle? If so, you probably spend a lot of time comparing cost, gas mileage and quality. You may even be reading up on tips to negotiate your final price and terms at the dealership. But are you also spending time researching safety ratings?

A safer car can save you money, help you avoid accidents, may mean less property and personal damage if you do have an accident, and, certain safety features could earn insurance discounts. If you shop by price, as many people do, don’t forget to take into consideration the potential impact of safety features on your insurance. Here are some things to look for:

  • Vehicle handling and its braking system;
  • Whether a car has the new crash avoidance systems; and
  • Extra steps to ensure the driver and passengers are well protected.

How to Research Safety Ratings

Finding and comparing safety rating information can take some time, but your efforts will be rewarded with valuable statistical analysis. Auto companies, the United States government and other third parties all test vehicles and publish results. You might visit to view an excellent use of your tax dollars at work as the U.S. Department of Transportation publishes this website to help consumers find safer cars.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety publishes tests and vehicle ratings in a simple, easy-to-understand format. The IIHS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing deaths, injuries and property damage that result from crashes on the nation’s roads. It has research on a variety of topics, ranging from things to look for when you need to buy a child booster seat to which SUV had the highest safety ratings in 2005. The IIHS is a good starting place to check that your next vehicle has been well-tested and passed safety tests.

If you’d rather not browse online, try calling your insurance agent. Find out which types of vehicles insurers tend to discount because they are considered safer than comparative alternatives. Also, ask about useful safety features that may earn discounts because they help prevent or minimize accidents.

In the end, a safer car can help you avoid accidents. If you do have an accident, it may help lessen the damage. And even if they never have to perform their functions, safety features may save you money by lowering insurance rates and increasing your vehicle’s value.

When you research your next vehicle, put safety at the top of the list!

Guest blogger Marilyn Katz is the founder of the, an online community for boomers.