NHTSA to change its 5-star crash-assessment testing to emphasize new technologies

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 17, 2012

The 5-star crash-assessment testing used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Admin may be revised to emphasize new electronic accident-avoidance technologies, according to Administrator David Strickland. He attended an event hosted by the Society of Automotive Analysts right before the first press day for the North American International Auto Show.

He said that the agency is considering new credits that may improve consumer awareness for the new technologies. These will also urge automakers to extend further across added vehicle lines.

He said that the company is now studying what new technologies could be installed to “highlight in the 5-star ratings.” He said that a decision will be made “soon.” This is the same road map that the agency followed for electronic stability control.

At the start, automakers got additional credit in the National Car Assessment Program impact testing due to the ESC application. This resulted to a rule that requires the anti-skid technology on all new models starting with the 2012 model year.

Strickland declined to say which technologies may get NCAP add-on credits but he revealed that several active safety systems are being assessed.

These include forward-collision-warning and lane-departure-assistance systems. He said that since the NHTSA was formed, crash-worthiness has been the agency’s “guiding star.” He cited that driver error causes 80% of crashes. To help reduce driver distraction, the agency will soon be unveiling a framework for in-vehicle electronics.

He said that it’s not their intention to ”stifle innovation” and that they admit that safety could be affected by technology. He said that in-vehicle guidelines will be set so that automakers can create innovations “within a zone of safety.”

Strickland added that the agency is acquiring better data about driver distraction. Driver behavior will be monitored by a research program that will install cameras on 2,000 vehicles. The results of this 2-year study are expected to be released in 2014. [source: Ward's Auto]

Topics: nhtsa

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