Confused about safety ratings

NatesMamma

New member
I'm comparing the NHTSA, IIHS, and InformedForLife ratings. And now I'm confused and left wondering if our two cars are really as safe as we thought they were. :scratcheshead:

I drive an '04 CR-V and DH's car is an '06 Corolla. The CR-V has SAB, but the Corolla does not. When we bought these vehicles, we believed they were among the safest cars that met our needs and were in our price range.

-First off, I was horrified that my CR-V got such a terrible SCORE from IFL, but once I looked at how they calculate their SCORE, I realized the problem is that so much test info (namely rollover data) is missing. Isn't the IFL SCORE basically useless unless the vehicle of interest has data for all tests that are used in calculating the SCORE?

-Something else I noticed is that there is a HUGE discrepancy in the side impact ratings for the Corolla. How is it that the Corolla has 4 stars in all side impact NHTSA ratings but is rated POOR by IIHS in the side impact category?

-If a particular car is rated poorly for a side or rear impact, does that change where/how you install your car seats? For example, would you feel better about an outboard install in a car that has good side impact ratings than in a car that fared poorly for side impact? What about RF vs FF? If your car fared poorly in the rear impact tests, would you be more comfortable turning your child FF sooner if, say, you did the majority of your driving on a divided highway where a rear impact crash is more likely than a head on collision?
 
ADS

exegesis48

New member
I would not overly concern yourself with side impact ratings when it comes to car seats. These ratings are usually conducted for passengers wearing a Shoulder/Lap belt. I have an 06 corolla and I have read the ratings. It's a safe vehicle from all accounts. If you do a proper seat install it's even safer. From what I have read side airbags are a bit of a conundrum in compact cars such as the corolla, as they do not allow for ample spacing between the seats and the paths of the airbags. So count yourself fortunate and do your best to achieve a proper install. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask/post pictures, and we will do our best to help you or recommend you to a nearby seat check facility.
 

Pixels

New member
When test data are missing, IFL uses average data. A vehicle that's actually bad will look better in the SCORE with missing data, and a vehicle that's actually good will look worse. But it won't artificially say that a good vehicle is bad or vice versa. It will only say your vehicle is more average than it actually is.

For your vehicle, the reason the rollover risk is so high on IFL is the fact that it's an SUV and has no ESC. If you click on Customize near the SCORE, you will get to a page where you can play with those settings. If you change it to a passenger car with Average ESC, the risk assessment for rollover changes to 33.3 (33 is average).

I'm not sure why there is such a big discrepancy between NHTSA and IIHS for the side impact tests. Possibly a difference in how the test was run? Maybe the Corolla was engineered/designed for the NHTSA test? I really don't know.

The overall IIHS rating for side impact was poor, but that was almost entirely for the driver. The rear passenger was Good in most categories. I wouldn't worry about the children in the back seat.

If a particular car is rated poorly for side impact, and I have only one child, you betcha that child will be in the middle. I will be less likely to move the child outboard for convenience. If you have more than one child, you do what you have to do.

No, I wouldn't turn a child FF sooner because of a poor rear impact rating. First of all, those tests are designed to test the vehicle's head and neck protection of an average adult male. It's a test of the geometry and design of the head restraint, not a test of the vehicle's crumple zone or ability to take a hit from the rear. From what I'm reading, they take the seats out of the vehicle and simulate a crash without crashing the whole vehicle, so that vehicle's crumple zone and passenger compartment aren't a factor at all in those ratings.

Overall, your child is always safer RFing. Statistically speaking, frontal and frontal offset crashes are the most common; side impacts are uncommon but when they do occur the fatality rate is high. Rear impacts are neither common nor particularly fatal when they do occur.
 

NatesMamma

New member
No, I wouldn't turn a child FF sooner because of a poor rear impact rating. First of all, those tests are designed to test the vehicle's head and neck protection of an average adult male. It's a test of the geometry and design of the head restraint, not a test of the vehicle's crumple zone or ability to take a hit from the rear. From what I'm reading, they take the seats out of the vehicle and simulate a crash without crashing the whole vehicle, so that vehicle's crumple zone and passenger compartment aren't a factor at all in those ratings

Thanks for the replies!

I didn't realize this was how they did the rear impact tests. Good to know! :thumbsup: That being the case, then, are the crumple zones in the rear not tested at all? Seems like a bad idea...

And, yeah, I see now that the poor IIHS rating for the Corolla comes mostly from the risk of severe head injury to the driver. :eek: Of course now I'm really worried about DH. I completely overlooked the IIHS safety ratings when we bought the car, so I was only going by the NHTSA star ratings, and I thought we were making a good choice. I wish aftermarket SAB were available... We've had that car less than a year, too, so it's not like we're going to be trading it in any time soon. :(
 

Pixels

New member
Rear crumple zones may be tested by the manufacturer (and I believe they do test them, at least I hope they do) but there are no third-party tests such as IIHS or NHTSA that I'm aware of.
 

NatesMamma

New member
OK. I figured I'd research the IIHS vs NHTSA side-impact crash tests to see if I could figure out some reasons for the discrepancy. There are some notable differences, which I was unaware of, in the crash tests:

NHTSA
-test dummies represent average size adult
-3015 lb barrier moving at 38.5 mph
-head injury is measured but is not a factor in the star ratings
-an excessive head injury score (>1000) is separately reported as a safety concern

IIHS
-test dummies represent a 12 year old adolescent (or very small female)
-3300 lb barrier moving at 31 mph
-barrier is higher off the ground to simulate a SUV or pickup truck
-head injury data are included in overall side impact evaluation

I'm guessing the combination of the smaller dummy (whose head is right in front of the window) and the higher SUV-like barrier is what led to the worse IIHS rating. (Well, at least DH is not the size of a 12 year old!)

Interestingly, whereas the (smaller) backseat dummy fared better in the IIHS test, in the NHTSA test, the (adult) dummy came in just under the threshold for an "excessive head injury" (944, I think it was). On the other hand, the head injury score for the driver was in the 600s. :rolleyes:

Take home message: Put little old women in the back seat, but average size adults are actually safer in the front? And DH is relatively safe in the driver's seat? (Really, this isn't unexpected, right? We already know kids are safest in the back, and I assume that has to do with more than just the airbags.)
 
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