March 8, 2007

NHTSA asks for help to improve five-star safety rating program

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has called on automakers, safety advocates and consumers to help the federal government develop a new and more effective five-star safety rating program. The program is used by many consumers when deciding on a vehicle to buy.

Mary Peters, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, and NHTSA Administrator Nicole Nason held a day-long public meeting on proposed improvements to the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), used to develop the government’s five-star safety ratings. The public is urged to offer suggestions for improvement by April 10, 2007.

Peters asked for ideas on the best way to improve the current front, side and rollover tests conducted by NCAP, and asked for advice on whether the Department’s proposed enhancements would raise the bar on safety. The proposal adds upper leg injuries to frontal crash tests, and head injuries to side crash tests. She also asked for advice on the best way to include ratings for proven crash avoidance technologies such as electronic stability control, and emerging ones such as lane-departure and rear-collision avoidance.

“While we have made some strong and sweeping recommendations for strengthening this system, we know that we don’t have a monopoly on good ideas,” Peters says. “When it comes to saving lives and preventing injuries, there is always room for improvement. Strengthening and improving the current five-star program will help us continue to give consumers the most up-to-date and useful information about the safety of the vehicles they are considering.”

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