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NHTSA Continues Efforts to Reduce Passenger Injuries, Outlines 2011 Changes to 5-Star Safety Ratings System

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation and its main responsibilities, as detailed in its mission statement, is to "save lives, prevent injuries and reduce traffic-related healthcare and other economic costs."An initiative to carry out this mission is the familiar 5-Star Ratings System. This upcoming year, however, the NHTSA plans to make some changes to the program.

Also called the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), the NHTSA launched the 5-Star Safety Rating System in 1978 as a way to rate a vehicle's level of safety if the vehicle were to be involved in a frontal crash. The system was designed to not only provide consumers a ranking system for car safety, but also encourage manufacturers to implement safety designs in their vehicles to use as leverage in the marketplace.

2011 Changes to the 5-Star Safety Rating System

Whether it's up-to-date technological advances or new proposals, the NHTSA is always looking to enhance the system. This year the organization will include:

  • Side pole testing to analyze a vehicle's side impact crash with a set object such as a utility pole
  • Different size test dummies to test a more accurate subset of the population
  • Collections of more crash data
  • A new, single Overall Vehicle Score per vehicle that provides an overview of all test results of an automobile

The NHTSA also plans to identify whether new vehicles are equipped with advanced technologies such as Electronic Stability Controls, Lane Departure Warnings, or Forward Collision Warnings.

Vehicle 5-Star Safety Ratings can be found at of by viewing the window stickers of all new vehicles.


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