U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration David Strickland presented the public with a new and improved 5-Star Safety Ratings System designed for new vehicles.
The announcement also included a newly issued safety rating for the 2011 vehicle models that have been tested under the program. Under the new ratings system, side pole crash testing will now be done and the vehicle’s crash prevention technologies will be evaluated as well.
Furthermore, female crash test dummies will also now be used to simulate different crash scenarios. According to Secretary LaHood, the more stars a car has, the safer it is. The upgraded rating system means that the bar of safety has been raised.
Secretary LaHood added that because of the new tests, improved crash data, and even higher standards, the safety ratings become that much tougher for the automakers but they become more relevant to the consumers.
The safety ratings range between 1 star to 5 stars with 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest. The change was the result of many vehicles managing to attain highest rating under the old rating system. Since the new standards are more demanding in nature, there is the possibility that those previously rated 5 stars may not be able to rate the same.
The improved 5-Star Safety Ratings System looks into the safety of different vehicles like cars, vans, pickup trucks, SUVs. The test is done in three areas, which include the frontal crash, the side crash, and its rollover resistance. For the 2011 models, the NHTSA planned to use the new system to rate two vans, nine pickups, 20 sport utility, and 24 passenger cars.
Strickland shared that the NHTSA wants consumers to accept safety technologies to ensure that the vehicles are safer. Strickland added that the department looks into the electronic stability control, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning.
These different features offer some significant benefits when it comes to safety and consumers should take them into consideration when purchasing a new vehicle, Strickland concluded. Another important change to the rating program is the inclusion of the Overall Vehicle Score after each vehicle has been tested.
The Overall Vehicle Score is the combination of the three different tests: frontal crash, side crash, and rollover resistance. The score obtained is then compared to the average risk of injury and the possibility of vehicle rollover of the other vehicles.
The Agency proposed that consumers must only consider vehicles that have crash avoidance technologies able to meet the minimum performance tests. The minimum performance tests include the forward collision warning, electronic stability control, and lane departure warning.
All 2011 model vehicles have the electronic stability control as standard though the Nissan has been rated as optional. For those who are interested to learn about the new rating system for vehicles, additional information can be found on the 5-Star Safety Ratings Program website at www.safercar.gov.
In addition, consumers can also visit Safercar.gov, to get more complete information on safe driving, safety recalls, passenger safety, and vehicle defects.