So, you’re perusing the car lot for a good vehicle for your teenager. Safety is of the utmost importance, so you scan the window sticker for a five-star rating. When it comes to vehicle safety, consumers have long trusted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 5-Star Safety Ratings Program, also known as the New Car Assessment Program. Typically, the information involves crashworthiness. We want to make sure a vehicle’s structural integrity remains intact in case there’s an accident. But NHTSA (and the rest of us) believe the best crash is the one you avoid. That’s why there is a proposal for a significant upgrade to the 5-Star Safety Ratings Program. The old recommendations do not factor in new technologies available on new vehicles that are working well on the streets. NHTSA will be improving on the old program and taking new crash-avoidance technologies into account when rating new vehicles.
The Four New Technologies
NHTSA is looking to integrate four new driver-assistance technologies into its new car safety assessment: lane-keeping support, pedestrian automatic emergency braking, blind spot detection and blind spot intervention. This will strengthen the current testing procedures and performance criteria for the driver-assistance technologies already included in NCAP.
Roadmap for Safer Driving
The NHTSA is trying to establish a roadmap for future technologies that should be integrated into the program as we progress. For example, the organization is seeking input from automakers and consumers on driver distraction, alcohol detection, seat belt interlocks, intelligent speed assist, driver monitoring systems and rear seat child reminder assist. This information can then be printed on the window stickers of both new and used vehicles so consumers can make educated purchase decisions.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, “There’s a crisis on America’s roadways: 3,000 people die every month, and the numbers have only gotten worse in recent years. These important changes will help save lives on our roadways by ensuring that consumers have the information they need about the latest safety technologies when they buy a new vehicle.”
Commentary from the Administrator
Dr. Steven Cliff is NHTSA’s deputy administrator. He is helping to shape our government’s National Roadway Safety Strategy to address the national crisis in motor vehicle fatalities and serious injuries.
Cliff said, “NHTSA’s 5-Star Safety Ratings system helps consumers learn more about the safety of new and used vehicles and select the one that’s right for them. The proposed improvements will not only make the program more useful and informative but also keep up with the pace of innovation in vehicle safety. For the first time ever, NCAP includes technology recommendations not only for drivers and passengers but for road users outside the vehicle, like pedestrians. The proposal also seeks comment and a novel approach to tie technological change to reducing driver behaviors that contribute to many crashes, injuries and fatalities. We look forward to reviewing the comments we receive and considering them as we complete this important work.”
The strategy adopts the safe-system approach, which builds in multiple layers of protection through safer people, safer roads, safer vehicles, safer speeds and post-crash care.
We are especially fond of including driver-assistance and crash-avoidance technologies on window stickers being sold by dealers in the used car marketplace. Perhaps you find a solid vehicle for your child, but it is missing blind-spot protection or forward-collision alerts. A VZAN-affiliated retailer can help integrate this essential safety into the vehicle. When purchasing a used vehicle, consumers do not have to compromise on safety. We applaud our government’s interest in making our roads safer through technology. More consumer awareness in the new car market will also help bring these new technologies to our fleet of legacy vehicles, which are typically driven by the ones most important to us. VZAN-affiliated retailers can help facilitate the upgrades.