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Major Changes Proposed For Vehicle Crash Ratings

Dec 23, 2015

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently proposed major changes to the government’s five-star vehicle safety ratings. The agency is looking to add scores for crash avoidance technology, as well as, pedestrian protection and to incorporate a new test that measures performance in a frontal offset crash.

The new system, which would allow vehicles to be scored in half-star increments for the first time, would be used on cars and trucks starting with the 2019 model year. NHTSA plans to collect public comments and issue a final decision by the end of 2016.

The changes, if adopted, would likely compel automakers to offer more safety features, such as automatic emergency braking, blind-spot detection, lane-departure warning, and pedestrian detection as standard equipment. Regulators would develop minimum performance criteria and rate vehicles based on how they stack up to that, giving only partial credit to vehicles that make the technology optional.

Some of the proposed changes include:

•A frontal oblique crash test designed to simulate the type of accident that continues to be responsible for a large number of deaths and serious injuries.•Full frontal crash test to better measure safety of rear-seat passengers, especially children.•More humanlike crash-test dummies to gauge the likelihood of chest, abdomen, lower spine and brain injuries.•A pedestrian five-star rating to reflect the presence and performance of frontal pedestrian automatic emergency braking and rear automatic braking systems.•A rating of crash avoidance and advanced technology systems, including forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, as well as, features such as semiautomatic headlight beam switching to improve driver visibility.•Updated criteria to measure a vehicle’s resistance to rollovers.