This year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is aiming to overhaul its 5-Star Safety Ratings system to keep drivers safer on highways and roads across the country. While the new rating system will likely not be ready for use until the vehicles for 2019 are being manufactured, the NHTSA is spending the beginning of the year taking polls and feeling out how the public will react to this plan.
What’s Going to Change?
The NHTSA’s plans include several high-tech elements that will increase safety features in vehicles and anticipate and prevent injuries sustained by drivers and passengers in vehicle collisions.
- The agency will introduce a revamped 5-Star Safety Ratings System to replace the existing model. The new system will, for the first time, evaluate crash-avoidance technologies and explore protections for pedestrians.
- The new system will introduce half-stars in the rating schedule so that consumers can more accurately assess a tested vehicle’s safety and performance rankings.
- New and improved crash test dummies will be used to provide more detailed information on how the human body is impacted by a collision or crash. One of these dummies, called THOR (Test Device for Human Occupant Restraint), has a flexible spine and has neck movements that mimic a human’s ability to move and bend.
- New tests will assess how a vehicle can protect a pedestrian in the event of a crash and how the impact will cause or prevent injuries in the legs, head and abdomen.
- A newly-designed Full Frontal Barrier Crash Test will offer an incentive for automobile manufacturers to improve rear-seat passenger safety standards.
- The NHTSA will introduce a frontal oblique crash test that will measure how well a car can protect passengers and drivers in a front-angled crash.
Another integral part of the NHTSA’s new plan for safety standards is the implementation of a fast recovery plan so that the agency can update their program quickly whenever new safety technologies are available for use. As more and more safety features have been introduced over the last few years (back up cameras, motion sensors, fuel-efficiency, etc.), it is critical for manufacturers to keep up with these features and incorporate them into their designs.
The NHTSA’s plan is in response to a troubling increase in fatalities on the nation’s highways. In the first six months of 2015, the death toll on American highways increased by more than 8 percent. Although the country has enjoyed an overall decline in highway deaths over the last several years, fluctuating fuel prices increased speeding and distracted driving, and other vehicle-related dangers have contributed to a sharp rise that needs to be countered. The NHTSA believes that these statistics can be turned around with improved safety standards.
Road and vehicle safety is critical for everyone because drivers, passengers, and pedestrians are at risk for injury or even death in the event of a crash. The NHTSA’s increased focus on safety standards will hopefully raise awareness and improve safety features in all vehicles on the roads.
If you have been injured in a car crash, contact the Denver auto accident lawyers at Levine Law for a consultation today.