NHTSA upgrades 5-Star Safety Ratings

By Matt DeLorenzo on December 8, 2015 9:57 AM

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA) announced revisions to its 5-Star Safety Rating system to include a new crash test and crash-test dummies, measures for pedestrian protection, and ratings for crash avoidance technologies. The proposed revamp of the rating system is open to public comment for 60 days with final adoption expected in 2016 and implementation by the 2019 model year.

"NHTSA's 5-Star Safety Ratings program was the first of its kind and the idea has now spread around the world," said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. "Today, we're adding to that legacy of global safety leadership, ensuring that American consumers have the best possible information about how to protect themselves and their families, and taking a significant step forward in our efforts to save lives and prevent injuries." 

New crash tests

Among the new crash tests is an oblique front impact designed to measure how well vehicles fare in angled frontal crashes. The proposal also includes an improved frontal barrier test will focus on improving rear seat passenger protection as well as assessments on how well vehicles protect pedestrians from head, leg and pelvic injuries in accidents.

NHTSA will also be assessing crash-avoidance and other advanced technologies that help prevent or mitigate damage in collisions. Among the current technologies that will be included in the ratings are forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and blind-spot detection systems. The rules lay out the framework to more quickly update the program to incorporate assessment of new technologies as they are developed and offered to the public. 

Upgrades in test dummy technology

The new crash test dummies included in the proposal include the Test device for Human Occupant Restraint (THOR) and WorldSID technologies, which better predict injuries to various areas of the body in front, front oblique and side impacts.

Under the revised rating system, NHTSA will issue two new 5-star ratings for each vehicle beyond the current ones which measure vehicle crashworthiness in frontal and side impacts as well as roll-overs. The first new rating will show the extent to which a vehicle is equipped with advanced crash avoidance technology, while the second will reflect a vehicle's ability to mitigate effects of pedestrian accidents.  NHTSA will also move to a system of awarding half-star increments in the ratings to provide consumers with more discriminating information about a vehicle's performance.

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