US propose high-tech safety changes

The US Department of Transportation has proposed high-tech changes to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 5-Star Safety Ratings for new vehicles.

The planned changes will improve on the well-known safety ratings by adding an additional crash test, using new and more human-like crash test dummies, rating crash-avoidance advanced technologies, and assessing pedestrian protection. These proposed changes will give consumers even better information to help them choose a safe vehicle, and will encourage manufacturers to produce vehicles with better crash protection and new technology innovations that will save lives.

‘NHTSA’s 5-Star Safety Ratings have set the bar on safety since it began in 1978, and we are now raising that bar,’ said US transportation secretary, Anthony Foxx. ‘The changes provide more and better information to new-vehicle shoppers that will help accelerate the technology innovations that saves lives.’

The planned changes to the 5-Star Safety Ratings system include:

– A new 5-Star Safety Ratings system, which will, for the first time, encompass assessment of crash-avoidance and advanced technologies as well as pedestrian protection;

– New tests to assess how well vehicles protect pedestrians from head, leg and pelvic injuries that occur when a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle;

– A new frontal oblique crash test that measures how well vehicles protect occupants in an angled frontal crash;

– An improved full frontal barrier crash test to drive safety improvements for rear seat occupants;

– New crash test dummies, including the Test device for Human Occupant Restraint, (THOR) and WorldSID, that will provide vastly improved data on the effects a crash is likely to have on the human body;

– An assessment of additional crash-avoidance and advanced technologies that offer drivers the most potential for avoiding or mitigating crashes;

– Use of half-star increments to provide consumers more discriminating information about vehicle safety performance; and

– The ability to dynamically update the programme more swiftly as new safety technologies emerge.

The full proposal, including all planned changes, can be viewed here.

NHTSA intends to analyse public comments and issue a final decision notice on the planned changes by the end of 2016.