Modes of Transportation – In an Automobile

Vehicle Safety Rating

When purchasing or leasing a vehicle, its safety rating is an important factor to consider to make an informed choice.

What is a vehicle safety rating?

A safety rating is an assessment of the safety of a vehicle that has been subject to standardized tests.

To find out a vehicle's safety rating

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is the reference.

The IIHS is a scientific organization dedicated to reducing deaths, injuries and property damage caused by crashes on U.S. roads. The data it collects can also be used in Canada, because vehicles in both countries are very similar.

On the IIHS Web site, you will find for each vehicle:

  • a full report
  • details of active and passive safety features:
    • active safety features – designed to avoid crashes (stability control, ABS brakes, traction control, braking assistance, etc.)
    • passive safety features – designed to mitigate the effects of a crash (seat belts, air bags, crumple zones designed to absorb the energy from the impact during a crash, headrests, etc.)
  • videos of the tested and crashed vehicle

How is a vehicle's safety rating determined?

To determine how well a vehicle protects its occupants in the event of a crash, the IIHS assigns the vehicle an overall rating based on its performance in various tests:

  • small overlap frontal test, in which one quarter of the vehicle's width strikes a wall
  • moderate overlap frontal test, in which half of the vehicle's width strikes a wall
  • side crash test
  • roof strength test, in which pressure is gradually applied to the roof to measure resistance
  • head restraints and seats test, a simulated rear-end crash in which a seat with a head restraint is placed on a sled
  • front crash prevention tests

Safety ratings

Good rating icon: a green square with the letter G in the middle

Good 

Acceptable rating icon: a yellow square with the letter A in the middle

Acceptable

Marginal rating icon: an orange square with the letter M in the middle

Marginal

Poor rating icon: a red square with the letter P in the middle

Poor

Front crash avoidance

Vehicles are rated based on both their performance in track tests and the technology used to prevent crashes or lessen their severity.