In the late 1970s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration unveiled the 5-Star Safety Ratings Program. Over time, the rating has gone from a novel invention to a vital factor in the way many consumers choose a new vehicle. The NHTSA has the power to push automakers to adopt new safety technology by making the technology necessary to achieve a top rating. After a difficult year in 2015, the NHTSA is considering a number of changes to the rating system, as well as other changes designed to help the agency protect and promote highway safety.
The most obvious change to the rating system being proposed by the NHTSA is the inclusion of half-star grading options. More grade options means consumers will have more information to distinguish one vehicle from another in terms of safety. The tests themselves would also change if the NHTSA gets its way. The group is pushing for crash avoidance, pedestrian detection and other safety features to be mandatory for automakers seeking a perfect safety rating. In addition, the NHTSA is looking to add a new test to study safety performance in collisions that occur at an angle. It is also considering changes to the test that determines how full frontal crashes impact passengers sitting in back seats.
The NHTSA is also considering a change that has been long awaited. The agency is looking to change the crash test dummies used in its tests. The new dummies would gather more data and do a better job of replicating just how a typical passenger fares in a car crash. Taken together, the proposed changes could force automakers to take a serious look at the latest safety technology available in order to be competitive. Pressuring automakers to take safety seriously is definitely in line with the NHTSA goal of making highway transportation safer for everyone.
Source: The Car Connection, “New Tests, New Crash Dummies, And More Changes In Store At NHTSA,” by Richard Read, 31 December 2015