NHTSA workers inspecting a vehicle.

What is the NHTSA?

The NHTSA, short for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is an agency operating under the U.S. Department of Transportation. Its role is straightforward: To keep America’s roads safe for all people. In conjunction with various state and local governments, the NHTSA is responsible for enforcing vehicle performance standards that help reduce the following which often occur in car accidents:

  • Deaths
  • Injuries
  • Economic losses

Not only does NHTSA promote safety by funding state highway safety programs through grants, but the organization also conducts thorough studies and research into vehicle safety and driver behaviors for the dedicated purpose of reducing accidents and making our roads safer.

The NHTSA 5-Star safety ratings program

In addition to the safety roles the organization performs, the NHTSA also tests the safety of vehicles. The organization then offers safety ratings to help you make informed decisions while shopping around for cars for yourself or for your family.

The safety ratings program offers ratings for various scenarios on a five-star scale. Some of the important factors that the NHTSA tests are:

  • Overall rating
  • Frontal crash rating
  • Side crash rating
  • Rollover rating

Each one is assigned between zero and five stars according to the results of the tests. The more stars a particular vehicle receives, the safer the vehicle. All in all, it’s a pretty simple method for determining vehicle safety. The NHTSA even makes recommendations for driver assistance technologies, like:

  • Forward collision warning
  • Lane departure warning
  • Rearview video system
  • Automatic emergency breaking (including dynamic braking support and crash imminent braking, both of which the agency highly recommends)
  • Adaptive lighting, which automatically reduces beam strength when approaching oncoming vehicles and reverts to high beam lighting once vehicles pass

The NHTSA reviews on the specific make, model, and year of a car you’re looking for might even reveal which safety features are standard, which features are only available as optional add-ons, and which ones are not at all available. So, if safety is an important factor in your car buying decisions, then you’ll want to make sure to check out the recommended safety features listed above as well as some of the emerging safety features mentioned below.

Safety as a priority

In general, safety has become a huge priority for both car manufacturers the NHTSA, and both have devoted a lot of time and research towards identifying the safety features that offer the greatest benefits to drivers.

While the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) offers all the top safety picks and top safety pick plus vehicles for a model year on once convenient location, you must search for this information individually on the NHTSA website.

Insuring safe cars

It isn’t just the auto makers and safety organizations that are prioritizing safety.  If the auto industry as a whole is getting behind vehicle safety, then insurance companies should be too. Unfortunately, not all insurance companies are on board with offering incentives to drivers who make these safety-minded buying decisions. That’s what sets Elephant apart from other insurance carriers.

We believe that safety isn’t just a buzzword. It really matters and your safe car buying decisions that are making the roads a safer place should earn you discounts on your insurance premiums. That’s why we offer discounts to drivers who insure cars with features like these:

  • Backup cameras
  • Automatic braking systems
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Lane departure warnings
  • Forward collision warnings

Why do NHTSA safety ratings matter?

Ultimately, it’s always wise to explore all available safety options when shopping for a new car. Whether you’re buying one for yourself or you’re purchasing a vehicle that carries your family or teen driver, it’s important to know you’re getting a safe car.

Both the NHTSA and IIHS are great places to start looking for those features and the safety value a particular car offers. It’s even better when you use that information in combination with ratings from the IIHS to choose the safest possible vehicle to meet your needs.

Safe cars deserve better rates
This article is intended for informational purposes only. It does not replace or modify the information contained in your insurance policy.