Finding the Safest Used Cars: Data Background Applies to Auto Grades

 In Ask the Auto Professor

Find Your Safest Used Cars: How Her Data Background Applies to Auto Grades

In this video, Alexa asks Norma about her professional training and how it applies to helping you find the safest used cars.

Alexa: Given your extensive background in data and research, how have you applied this into your grading system … into, you know, putting a grade on each car? Can you walk me through your process?

Norma:  Sure, so picture all these cars are on the road together. Okay, so my philosophy is I want to know how well a car protected people in a crash. So, you might be an excellent driver, but you can’t prevent that other driver coming over the line and hitting you. You can’t prevent that T-bone going through an intersection if somebody runs the red light. So, I’m more interested in protection and I’m interested in knowing how well any car – be it a Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Toyota Corolla, a Acura TLX – I want to know how well they protected their drivers on the road against all the other vehicles. I’m an expert in car crash statistics, so I looked at how often people walked away in the worst crashes. So, it’s kind of a survivability index and I developed a rating system because I was a professor at Arizona State University for over 22 years and I’m used to giving grades. So, I developed a grading system where the A meant that a car or SUV or pickup truck looked like the best protection you could get on the road. And an F looked like the worst. So, everything in between – and, Alexa, because I’m using the real crash data, I can give something that nobody else can give. I can give the Auto Grade for you personally. As a young woman, I have an Auto Grade for you on a car. As an older woman, I have an Auto Grade for myself, for my uncle, my grandmother, my daughter. I have Auto Grades broken down by age and sex, because in reality, those [crash] dummies don’t represent us. We’re a lot more varied.

Alexa: And where can people find out more and how can they learn more about your grading system, so when they’re purchasing a car, they go to you? Because you are the expert of safety.

Norma: Thank you, the website is totally free. It’s called and the menu comes up right away and it asks you what car you’re thinking about buying. Make, model, and year and once we give you an overall grade, you have the possibility of getting a personal grade, as well.


With The Auto Professor’s Auto Grades, you can find the safest used cars for you and your loved ones.

Working together to create a world where everyone walks away from a crash.