U.S. DOT Plans To Improve Safety Ratings

The U.S. Department of Transport has recently issued a press release announcing their plans to introduce high-tech upgrades to the 5-star safety rating for new vehicles issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Plans say that the familiar safety-rating system will include an additional crash test with new, more realistic dummies and that it will evaluate advanced crash-avoidance technology and pedestrian protection. The improvements are intended to offer consumers ample information so that they can make an informed decision when purchasing a car. It is also hoped they will incentivize car companies to manufacture cars that can help drivers avoid crashes or diminish their consequences and ultimately, save lives.

The five-star rating system, also known as the New Car Assessment Program, was introduced in 1978 and now that bar is being raised, in the words of U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Every year new autos are tested for how well they protect the driver in frontal, lateral and rollover accidents. The crash-test results are collected and translated into stars. The more stars, the safer the car. More information can be found on the NHTSA website Safer Car.

Here is the list of the announced changes:

  • Crash-avoidance assessment
  • Pedestrian protection assessment
  • A crash test oblique-angle crashes
  • An improved full frontal barrier test to encourage increasing the safety of rear-seat passengers
  • Enhanced test dummies that will provide more information about the likely crash effects on the human body
  • Half stars that should offer more discriminating information
  • The possibility to update the system more quickly and flexibly

The comprehensive list of the planned improvements can be found here. After the period of 60 days in which the NHTSA will gather public comments, the feedback will be reviewed and taken into account for the final decision. The new rating system is expected to apply for Model Year 2019 vehicles.

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