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Karl Newman, President 
Darrin Sanger, Communications Director    
NW Insurance Council    
Phone: (206) 624-3330
Fax: (206) 624-1975

Shopping for a car? Think safety & insurance first

SEATTLE - Not all cars are the same, so it's no surprise that some cars are safer than others. While shopping for a car, it's important to carefully examine its safety features the cost to insure it before signing on the dotted line.

Though all new vehicles must meet minimum federal safety standards, occupant injuries and vehicle damage vary widely in crashes, making some cars dramatically safer than others.

"Vehicles built more durably and equipped with more safety features may cost more, but a safer car also can save your life," said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president. "And discounts due to safety features such as anti-lock brakes often save you money on your auto insurance policy."

Here is a list of safety features you should consider when shopping for a car:

  • Structural design - A good structural design has a strong occupant compartment, also known as the "safety cage." Front and rear ends are also designed to buckle and bend in a crash to absorb the force of a crash. These "crush zones" should keep damage away from the safety cage.
  • Crashworthiness - Vehicles that perform well in crash tests have a reduced risk of death and serious injury when a crash occurs. To review a rating of crashworthiness by vehicle make and model, check the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's website at
  • Size and weight - Larger and heavier vehicles are safer than lighter and smaller ones. Small vehicles have tNW Insurance Councile as many occupant deaths each year as compared to larger vehicles.
  • Restraint systems - Seat belts, airbags and head restraints all work collectively with a vehicle's structure to protect people in serious crashes. Lap and shoulder belts hold you in place. Side airbags protect your chest. They are also designed to prevent your head from hitting interior or intruding objects.
  • Head restraints are designed to keep your head from snapping back and injuring your neck during a collision. Look for cars with locking head restraints that are close and directly behind the back of the head.
  • Anti-lock brakes - Conventional brakes can lock and cause skidding and lack of control for the driver. Anti-lock brakes prevent lockup and allow you to keep the car under control. Anti-lock brakes may help control steering, but they may not help you stop more quickly.
  • Daytime running lights - These are generally high-beam headlights at reduced intensity or low-beam headlights at full or reduced power.
  • Daytime running lights help increase contrast between vehicles and backgrounds, making vehicles more visible and reducing the risks of daytime accidents.

To find out what kinds of insurance discounts you can receive based on safety features, contact your insurance agent or company. For more information on shopping for safer vehicles, contact NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942 or visit http://www.NW Insurance

The NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, consumer education organization funded by member insurance companies.