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Department of Transportation Recommends Updated Safety Rating System for New Vehicles

Proposed series of changes would modernize NHTSA’s current standards. Under the current program, NHTSA crash tests new vehicles and rates their ability to protect occupants in frontal, side and rollover crashes.

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The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has proposed a series of changes to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 5-star Safety Ratings, also known as the New Car Assessment Program. Under the current program, NHTSA crash tests new vehicles and rates their ability to protect occupants in frontal, side and rollover crashes. The measurement can range from one to five stars, with five stars being the highest rating.

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The new DOT proposal takes into consideration new and emerging vehicle technologies. The new standards include:

  • A new 5-Star Safety Ratings system, to encompass assessment of crash-avoidance and advanced technologies as well as pedestrian protection.
  • New tests to assess how well vehicles protect pedestrians from head, leg and pelvic injuries that occur when a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle.
  • A new frontal oblique crash test that measures how well vehicles protect occupants in an angled frontal crash.
  • An improved full frontal barrier crash test to drive safety improvements for rear seat occupants.
  • New crash test dummies to provide improved data on the effects a crash will likely have on the human body.
  • An assessment of additional crash-avoidance and advanced technologies that offer drivers the most potential for avoiding or mitigating crashes.
  • Use of half-star increments to provide consumers more discriminating information about vehicle safety performance.
  • The ability to dynamically update the program more swiftly as new safety technologies emerge.

In reference to the proposal, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “NHTSA’s 5-Star Safety Ratings have set the bar on safety since they began in 1978, and today we are raising that bar. The changes provide more and better information to new-vehicle shoppers that will help accelerate the technology innovations that save lives.”

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To see the full DOT proposal, click here.

The DOT will be collecting public comments for the next 60 days. NHTSA plans to issue a final decision notice by the end of 2016.

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