Washington, D.C. – The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has unveiled a new, enhanced five-star safety rating system for new vehicles. The new system will include side pole crash testing and crash prevention technologies, and will use female crash test dummies alongside those that simulate males in crashes.

“More stars equal safer cars,” said transportation secretary Ray LaHood. “With our upgraded five-star safety ratings system, we’re raising the bar on safety. Through new tests, better crash data and higher standards, we are making the safety ratings tougher and more meaningful for consumers.”

Vehicle safety ratings range from the lowest one-star to the highest five-star. Because so many vehicles had reached the highest rating under the old rating criteria, and because the new standards are much more rigorous, not all previously-rated five-star vehicles will remain at that level.

The new system evaluates the safety of passenger cars, vans and pickup trucks for frontal crash, side crash and rollover resistance. For model-year 2011, NHTSA will rate 24 passenger cars, 20 SUVs, two vans and nine pickups under the new ratings system.

The new system also adds an overall vehicle score for each vehicle tested, combining the results of a frontal crash test, side crash tests, and rollover resistance tests, and compares those results to the average risk of injury and potential for vehicle rollover of other vehicles.

For more information, including a list of newly-rated 2011 vehicles, visit NHTSA.

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