Crash Test Videos Becoming Consumer Tool

Jarring images of vehicles crashing into test barriers are becoming more prevalent on the Internet, giving safety-conscious car shoppers another tool when searching for the right car, the Associated Press reports.

Consumer Reports now offers a library of crash test videos for more than 200 vehicles on its Web site, letting buyers watch the tests while considering which car to buy. The tests were conducted by the Virginia-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which issues safety ratings for vehicles.

Car buyers can also find similar crash test videos in the autos section of Microsoft Corp.'s MSN.com, along with footage from test drives and auto shows.

According to the AP, automakers say the videos could serve as another resource for shoppers but caution that the images may not give the full story of a car's safety, which is summarized in government ratings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or by the Insurance Institute.

Industry officials noted a vehicle's safety qualities could be affected by a number of factors, including the type of crash, speed and road conditions.

On the Net:

• Consumer Reports: ConsumerReports.org/crashtest
• MSN's Autos: autos.msn.com/default.aspx
• Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: iihs.org
• NHTSA's Crash Test Ratings: safercar.gov

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