For the side barrier crash tests, crash dummies representing an average-size adult male and a small-size adult female are placed in the driver and rear passenger seats (driver’s side), respectively, and are secured with the vehicle’s seat belts. The side crash rating represents an intersection-type collision with a 3,000-pound barrier moving at 38.5 mph into a standing vehicle. The moving barrier is covered with material that has “give” to replicate the front of a vehicle. Since all rated vehicles are impacted by the same size barrier, it is possible to compare all vehicles with each other when looking at side barrier crash protection ratings.
Instruments measure the force of impact to each dummy’s head, neck, chest, lower spine, abdomen, and pelvis. Side barrier star ratings indicate the chance of a serious head, chest, abdomen, and pelvis injury for the driver and front seat passenger (outboard first row occupants), and the chance of serious head and pelvis injury for the rear seat passengers (outboard second row occupants). A serious injury is one requiring hospitalization. It may result in a permanent disability or in some cases be life-threatening.
Lower spine injury, although measured, is not currently included in the star rating. Excessive lower spine injury readings (lower spine reading greater than 82 Gs) are reported separately. For the front seat occupants, they are reported as a footnote on NHTSA.gov, and for the rear passenger occupants, they are reported separately as a safety concern. Star ratings for front and rear seat occupants in the side barrier crash test are assigned as follows:
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐= less than 10% chance of serious injury
⭐⭐⭐⭐= 10% to 15% chance of serious injury
⭐⭐⭐= 15% to 20% chance of serious injury
⭐⭐= 20% to 40% chance of serious injury
⭐= greater than 40% chance of serious injury
The overall side barrier star rating is assigned according to the chart below:
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐= Side barrier crash injury risk for this vehicle is much less than average
⭐⭐⭐⭐= Side barrier crash injury risk for this vehicle is less than average to average
⭐⭐⭐= Side barrier crash injury risk for this vehicle is average to greater than average
⭐⭐= Side barrier crash injury risk for this vehicle is greater than average
⭐= Side barrier crash injury risk for this vehicle is much greater than average