Bringing vehicle safety information into the modern age, officials at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) are proposing updates to the 5-Star Vehicle Safety Rating system used for new vehicles.
The recommended changes, which are fairly expansive, have two central goals:
- To provide “consumers with even better information to help the choose a safe vehicle”; and
- To “encourage [vehicle] manufacturers to produce vehicles with better crash protection and new technology innovations that will save lives.”
Noting the significance of this update, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has remarked that:
NHTSA’s 5-Star Safety Ratings have set the bar on safety since it began in 1978, and [now] we are raising that bar… The [proposed] changes provide more and better information to new-vehicle shoppers that will help accelerate the technology innovations that saves lives.
The Proposed Updates
While the complete proposal for the 5-Star Rating updates can be viewed here, some of the main updates that are currently being recommended include:
- New crash tests, including tests that will assess the impacts of various types of front-impact car crashes on backseat vehicle occupants, as well as tests that evaluate pedestrian impacts and protections
- New crash dummies, which should “provide vastly improved data on the effects a crash is likely to have on the human body”
- An expansion of the systems assessed, with officials now including crash-prevention technologies in their evaluations
- More refined ratings, which will allow officials to give out half stars to “provide consumers more discriminating information about vehicle safety performance.”
The Next Steps
Currently, DOT officials are encouraging the public to submit comments on the proposed updates. The public comment period will remain open through January 2016, after which officials will review the comments and “issue a final decision notice on the planned changes by the end of 2016.”
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