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Safest Cars on the Road

Looking for the safest cars on the road? People look at different aspects when purchasing a car. Some look at horsepower, some check out how the car handles, while others still simply care about the aesthetics. To an increasing number of people, however, safety has been brought up as a top concern. More and more individuals are worried about how secure their car is in case of an accident, and rightly so. What with insurance costs, maintenance, and general work on a vehicle, the costs can quickly skyrocket if your car isn’t in top condition. Though there is no doubt that cars are safer nowadays than they once were, thanks to legislation forcing air bags into all cars, requiring the use of seatbelts, etc., many people want to know how truly save a vehicle is.

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There are two aspects when looking at vehicle safety: prevention and crashworthiness. Prevention, unsurprisingly, is how well a car can avoid an accident. It pertains to things such as braking performance, handling, acceleration, and visibility. Crashworthiness is the transport's performance during a calamity. With this in mind, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety sponsored tests of vehicles in order to discover which cars out on the market are truly the safest vehicles on the road. Here's a list of which vehicles scored the highest, diagramed by class:

Large Sedans- The highest scoring sedans were the Lexus ES300, the Audi A4, and the BMW 330i, out of 14 cars tested. Each passed the crashworthiness and prevention tests with flying colors.

Family Sedans- Leading the family sedan pack was the Volkswagen Passat GLX V6, followed closely by the Toyota Camry XLE V6. Coming in with slightly above average scores were the Passat GLS V4, the Nissan Altima 3.5 SE, and the Subaru Legacy.

Small Cars- Most people think of small cars as silly, uncomfortable, or downright ugly. That isn’t always the case though, and smaller vehicles are known to be safer than larger, bulkier SUV's, which are much more top heavy and likely to tip over in case of a collision. The Volkswagen Golf TDI came in at number one in the charts, trailed closely by the Honda Civic EX and the Volkswagen Jetta GLS TDI.

Pickup Trucks- Designed to pull their weight in building materials, full-sized trucks usually don’t do well in safety tests due to their inability to protect drivers in crashes, as well as having poor braking mechanisms and handling. However, several trucks did decently on the tests, including the Toyota Tundra SR5 4.7, the Dodge Ram SLT 4.7, and the Ford F150 XLT 5.4. A separate test was given to compact crew-cab pickup trucks, and the Toyota Tacoma TRD V6 led the pack there. Runners-up include the Nissan Frontier V6

Sport Utility Vehicles/Minivans- Again this category was separated into full-sized and small-sized categories. Top vehicles in the small-sized SUV category include the Saturn VUE V6, the Honda CR-V EX, and the Hyundai Santa Fe GLS V6. Winners of the midsized category were the Lexus RX300, Acura MDX, and Toyota Highlander. In the Minivan category, the Honda Odyssey EX scored the highest, trailed by the Toyota Sienna LE and the Mazda MPV LX.

Of course, the safest vehicle on the road is all for naught in the hands of an inexperienced, ignorant, or downright poor driver. So remember when you're on the road to be aware of your surroundings. No matter how safe you are as a driver, no matter how safe your car/truck/SUV/Minivan is as a vehicle, nothing will account more for your safety than intelligence and the ability to think on your feet as a defensive driver.

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