Report NHTSA plans to overhaul crash test safety rating system

The NHTSA plans to overhaul its crash safety rating system, which is aimed at reducing motor vehicle accidents that result in serious injuries or death.

Motor vehicle accidents are all too common on the roads of North Carolina. According to the state's Department of Motor Vehicles, there were more than 220,000 collisions reported in 2013 alone. As a result of these crashes, more than 1,200 people were killed, and many more sufferedserious injuries. This is despite safety ratings and requirements for automobiles that are sold in the U.S.

Recently, however, it was reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to overhaul its crash test safety ratings. The aim of the proposed changes is to increase vehicle safety and reduce collisions. According to a USA Today report, the changes would not only measure how automobiles fair in accidents, but also how well they avoid them in the first place.

Recommended safety features

The NHTSA's proposed changes would include ratings to gauge how vehicles use certain advanced technologies. Reuters reports that these features include the following:

  • Semi-automatic headlamp beam switching
  • Forward accident warning
  • Lane departure warning
  • Blind spot detection
  • Rear automatic braking
  • Automatic emergency braking

While many of these technologies are currently available, they are optional features on most vehicles. Including them in the safety ratings, however, might push manufacturers to make them standard technology on all vehicle models. This may help reduce the occurrence of auto crashes, which may cause serious injuries or death.

Proposed changes to crash test ratings

In addition to gauging a vehicle's use of crash avoidance technologies, the NHTSA has proposed changes to how it will measure what happens to vehicles during accidents. USA Today reports that this includes adding a frontal oblique crash test to the current ratings system. This test would gauge how automobiles react to angled front-end collisions. Additionally, changes would be made to the front barrier test to better determine the safety of occupants in the rear seats of vehicles during such accidents.

The NHTSA would still use its five-star rating system, with five stars being the top rating. However, the new system would allow half-star increments. The hope is that this would provide more precise results. The scores would include three sub-ratings - accident-avoidance systems, collision worthiness and pedestrian safety. Barring any delays or issues, the new system would go into effect for 2019 model year vehicles.

New crash test dummies

The NHTSA has long used crash test dummies during their safety tests to identify vehicle occupant safety during collision testing. The new units would better utilize data that is gathered during crash testing. They would allow those in the auto-safety industry to study head, pelvic and leg injuries, which are suffered during accidents.

Seeking legal counsel

When people in North Carolina are injured in motor vehicle accidents, they often need extensive medical treatment and care. This may lead to undue medical expenses and, in some cases, may also cause them to lose income while they are recovering. If the collisions were caused by the negligence of other motorists, however, those drivers may be held responsible for the resulting damages. Therefore, those who have experienced this type of situation may find it of benefit to discuss their case with an attorney to understand their rights and options.