Crash testing is just a sliver of all the testing that takes place involving the new cars entering the market. But it happens to be one of the most exciting and dramatic.
And what could be more dramatic -- and possibly even reassuring -- than seeing the model of car you own being put through its crash testing paces? You can look up crash test videos and results for your favorite vehicles courtesy of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Not all car models available have videos associated with them, but there is a fairly good cross-section of mainstream consumer vehicles. The tests show crashes at normal speed, in slow motion and slow motion close-ups of the dummy occupant. Some people might find the occupant close-ups a bit disturbing -- you can imagine the trauma and emotional pain that such collisions might cause a real person, if you've never experienced it for yourself. But the truth is, the sacrifice of those cars and the dummies provides us with a wealth of knowledge for both making cars safer and for making better-informed buying decisions based on vehicle safety.
Plastic dummies give us a rough approximation of what to expect when testing vehicles for their crashworthiness. Alas, as it has been sung, ain't nothing like the real thing. Find out about one of the creepier car testing traditions on the next page.