Buying a Safer Car (item 501B, free), published by the U.S. Department of Transportation, contains charts that detail safety features of nearly 200 cars, trucks, sport utility vehicles and vans for the 1995 model year. It also lists crash test results and the theft potential of those models.
To receive a copy, send your name and address to Consumer Information Center, Department 501B, Pueblo, CO 81009.The most important safety features in a car are safety belts, driver and passenger air bags and anti-lock braking system, which prevents the wheels from locking up.
The booklet show which of these features are standard, optional or unavailable in each car model, helping you compare models in the same size class.
The booklet also has charts showing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's crash-test results. Special dummies are used to see how well front seat passengers would be protected in a frontal collision. Experts measure the force of impact on the dummies' heads, chests and legs in a 35 mph crash test into a fixed barrier. The rating ranges from one to five stars.
The booklet also lists the theft ratings of most 1995 model cars. These ratings are based on stolen vehicle data from the FBI. The ratings will tell you whether the car you have in mind has an above or below average likelihood of being stolen.
Some cars are more expensive than others to insure. But you may be able to get a discount of 5 to 20 percent of the comprehensive portion of your insurance premium for models equipped with an anti-theft device.
When you're choosing a vehicle, keep in mind that heavier cars give more protection than lighter cars with the same safety features.
And when you take a test drive, make sure the head restraints, roof structure and windshield don't interfere with visibility.
LDL, HDL cholesterol
All cholesterol is not created equal. A booklet called A Consumer's Guide to Fats (item 599B, free) explains the difference. To request a copy, send your name and address to Consumer Information Center, Dept. 599B, Pueblo, CO 81009.
Cholesterol is carried in your blood by lipoproteins, chemical compounds made of fat and protein. When a liproprotein contains more fat than protein, it's called a low-density lipoprotein (LDL). When it contains more protein than fat, it's called a high-density liproprotein (HDL).
LDL-cholesterol increases the risk of a heart attack because it's more likely to leave fatty buildup in your arteries. But HDL-cholesterol can help your body reduce the overall amount of cholesterol in your blood and can protect against heart disease.
Do you know your current cholesterol level? If not, have it checked. To lower your risk of heart disease, keep your total cholesterol count below 200, your LDL-cholesterol under 130 and your HDL-cholesterol above 35.
A booklet about food preservatives is also available. A Fresh Look at Food Preservatives (item 589B, free) discusses various preservatives, how they're regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and includes important information for people who may be sensitive to sulfite preservatives. For a copy, send your name and address to Consumer Information Center, Dept. 598B, Pueblo, CO 81009.