Only the safest cars make this list: Toyota & Honda on the lead

Only the safest cars make this list: Toyota & Honda on the lead

Safety features are top of mind for most car buyers, and for good reason. They directly impact your safety on the road – and even how much you pay for car insurance!

According to the World Health Organization, nearly 1.9 million people lose their lives in traffic accidents every year, with millions more sustaining injuries. This grim reality drives car manufacturers to develop advanced safety features, aiming to prevent accidents and keep drivers and passengers safe. These advancements not only enhance car safety but also lead to significantly reduce the damage accidents cause. As a result, car insurance companies may offer lower rates for cars with high safety ratings.

Want the safest car and the best insurance deal? Read this blog to learn how car safety is tested, and discover how safety ratings affect car insurance rates.

Who tests and rates cars for safety?

Every car company puts their new models through rigorous testing before releasing them to the public. While these tests often destroy the cars used, costing millions, the loss is small compared to protecting lives and maintaining a good reputation for successful sales.

Here in the Gulf region, the “GCC Standardization Organization” (GSO) has strict regulations. They have strict regulations that require every car sold in the GCC to undergo a rigorous test, with GSO officials present to ensure everything is done properly. Additionally, car manufacturers must provide a certificate confirming that each car meets all the safety and technical standards set by SASO.

Beyond manufacturer testing, there are several testing bodies worldwide that evaluate car safety. These bodies play a vital role in ensuring cars meet the required safety and security standards, such as:

  • The European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP): Used by European consumers and policymakers to understand car safety.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): A US government agency under the Department of Transportation responsible for assessing car safety and setting safety standards.
  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS): An independent American non-profit organization funded by car insurance companies to analyze the expected number of accident claims for each car model.

Car Safety 101: car crash tests explained

The IIHS puts cars through 4 main crash tests to assess how well they protect passengers in different collision scenarios. These tests include:

  1. Moderate overlap front crash test (formerly known as the frontal offset test)
  2. Driver-side small overlap front crash test
  3. Passenger-side small overlap front crash test
  4. Side impact crash test

Front crash tests

Head-on crashes are a leading cause of car accident injuries and deaths. While many cars previously struggled in these tests, modern vehicles are built stronger, allowing airbags and seatbelts to function effectively. Additionally, rear-seat passenger safety has improved significantly compared to the past.

In this test, the car is driven at 40 mile per hour (about 64 km/h) towards an aluminum barrier, ensuring 40% of the front end makes contact. This simulates hitting a fixed object like a pole or tree head-on.

Back in the day, IIHS only used a driver dummy. However, in 2002, they added a child or young adult dummy to the back seat to assess the impact on all passengers.

After each test, the experts analyze three key factors to determine the car’s overall safety rating:

  • The extent of damage to the passenger compartment
  • The severity of injuries sustained by the dummies (measured by sensors)
  • The movement of the dummies during the collision

Side impact crash test

Side-swipes are responsible for a shocking number of deaths on the roads. Mainly because car sides are weaker than fronts. Which makes it harder to absorb the impact and protect passengers inside.

For years, IIHS used outdated test barriers designed for 1980s cars. The outdated barrier doesn’t reflect the heavier weight, taller height, and modern design of today’s. So, in 2021 IIHS decided to give the barrier an upgrade to ensures a more realistic simulation of the damage a car might experience in a real-life side impact.

The barrier is launched at the car at around 31 miles per hour (50 km/h).It hits the car directly on the side, with the goal of simulating a “T-bone” type accident where another car strikes the side at an angle.

After the test, experts focus on 3 key areas:

  • How badly the crash dummies are “hurt,” is measured by sensors.
  • How well the car shields heads from injuries like skull fractures.
  • How badly the car’s side gets crushed inwards and protects the passenger compartment.

2024 car models earning IIHS top safety pick

Every year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reveals their top safety picks. This year, the Honda Civic Hatchback emerged victorious, followed by the Honda Civic Sedan, Mazda 3 Hatchback, Mazda 3 Sedan, Subaru Crosstrek Wagon, Toyota Corolla Hatchback, and Toyota Corolla Sedan.

The majority of winners are small and midsized SUVs. In general, larger and heavier cars offer better protection for passengers in accidents compared to their smaller counterparts. This is because the longer front end of a larger car absorbs the impact force more effectively, minimizing the impact felt by the driver and passengers. Additionally, heavier cars tend to maintain forward momentum after a collision, further reducing the force felt during the impact.

The big question: are Chinese cars any safe?

We’ve all seen more and more Chinese cars on the roads lately; especially in Saudi Arabia where their sales grown by 40%! But with this popularity comes a big question: are these cars safe?

This is a fair question, because some Chinese cars performed poorly in crash tests back in 2006 – 2007. As a result, there are still many concerns about their overall safety, which often came down to two things: safety features and, in some cases, poor manufacturing quality.

But, we can definitely say Chinese cars have come a long way! Today, many Chinese cars perform just as well as their established competitors in crash tests. Some models from BYD, Chery, Changan, and Geely have managed to get top ratings (including 5 stars) in the Euro NCAP strict tests. As with any car purchase, it’s always a good idea to do your research and compare different models before making a decision.

Top Safety Picks: Chinese cars edition

Several Chinese cars performed well in international crash tests. This includes:

  • BYD TANG: High scores in Euro NCAP.
  • Chery Tiggo 7 Pro: Well-rated in A-Ncap safety assessments.
  • Changan Deepal S7 which aced the C-Ncap safety tests.
  • Geely Galaxy L7 which impressed in the C-Ncap safety evaluations.

While these results are encouraging, most Chinese cars still don’t meet the safety standards required for the US market. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sets a minimum 3-star safety rating for cars to be considered ‘safe for use’ in the US. Unfortunately, Chinese cars average only 1.5 to 2 stars, with even the best reaching just 2.5 stars. This means they haven’t yet cleared that safety hurdle.

Worry not: Here in Saudi Arabia, SASO ensures only safe cars hit the market, so you can relax on that front!
If you need to see it yourself, check the safety of the car you’re considering on websites like Euro NCAP, IIHS, and NHTSA.

Car safety pays off, and it means cheaper insurance!

Generally, the safer a car (based on crash test results), the lower your insurance premium. “Why?”— You ask. Well, safer cars are more likely to prevent serious injuries and minimize damage in an accident. This is what the test results prove! And this automatically means fewer expensive claims for insurance companies, which means cheaper car insurance premiums for you.

While safety comes first always, it’s not the only thing that determine how much you pay for car insurance. In Saudi Arabia, car insurance companies also factor in things like: driver’s age, accident history, and national address (location.) Besides, insurance prices can vary significantly from one driver, car model, company to another. So, don’t skip your research! Use online comparison websites to compare quotes from multiple insurers and find the best offer.

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