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Do Five-Star Ratings Really Mean a Safer Ride?


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Do Five-Star Ratings Really Mean a Safer Ride?

Part of shopping for a car is, or should be, checking out the crash-test scores for the vehicle you have in mind. But do those government "star" ratings or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's "poor" to "good" rankings indicate anything meaningful about how you'll fare in a real-world collision? A new study suggests the answer is yes, but only for cars, not sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks.

David Harless and George Hoffer, economics professors at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business, took a look at the relationship between the crash-test scores of various vehicles going back more than 20 years and the government's records of fatal accidents involving those models.

An important choice Messrs. Harless and Hoffer made when analyzing this data was to focus on what happened to the fatality rates for a specific nameplate as the model was redesigned and retested over time, according to a draft of the soon-to-be-published study.


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I'll be honest, I don't pay attention to the crash stuff, that may make me a bad person, or a bad dad, but I really don't look at that stuff. I look at the mechanicals, the ability for me to get under the hood and work on it (since I have the equipment to do so), I look at the styling, the performance, and the price. I'm not too huge on knowing how badly my legs are going to be broken when the vehicle folds up onto them. Hell if I get into an accident, I'll find out then.

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