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Legal Blog

NTSA Proposes Major Changes to 5-Star Safety Ratings System

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a federal agency responsible for setting motor vehicle and highway safety standards, recently announced plans to change their existing 5-Star Safety Ratings system. The current rating system was established by the NHTSA in 1978 to assess the safety of vehicle occupants in frontal crashes on a 1 to 5-star scale, with 1 star indicating the lowest rating. The NHTSA began incorporating side crash rating results in 1997 and rollover rating results in 2001. The original impetus for the safety rating system was to give consumers access to information when purchasing vehicles and encourage car makers to produce safer vehicles.

How Does the Current 5-Star Safety Ratings System Work?

Under the current system, three tests are used to evaluate the safety of vehicle occupants during frontal crashes, side crashes and rollover accidents. The frontal crash testing evaluates the chances a driver or passenger injury will occur when a vehicle makes impact with a fixed barrier at 35 mph. The side impact testing is twofold; the car is evaluated for risk of injury to front or rear passengers when hit from the side by a vehicle traveling at 38.5 mph and the driver’s risk of injury when the side of the vehicle hits a pole at 20 mph. The rollover safety rating is based on a formula that estimates the rollover risk using the width and center of gravity measurements of vehicles.

What are the Changes to the 5-Star Safety Ratings System?

The most significant of the planned changes include:

  • Crash-avoidance technologies that may reduce the risk of accidents will be rated.
  • New tests will be introduced to evaluate the extent to which vehicles protect pedestrians from injuries when struck by a vehicle.
  • Frontal oblique crash tests will be introduced to measure the risk of injury to vehicle occupants when a vehicle hits another object at an angle.
  • Improve the frontal barrier crash test to assess risk of injury to backseat occupants.
  • Improved test dummies, which will provide more precise data on the potential impact of a crash on the human body.
  • Half-star increments will be used to provide more discerning information to customers.

The introduction of a frontal oblique crash test is a significant improvement given that these types of car accidents consistently result in death and serious injury. The aim in rating crash-avoidance technologies is not only to provide customers with useful information when comparing vehicles but to encourage automakers to make these types of safety features a standard part of their vehicles. In doing so, the proposed changes to the existing 5-Star Safety Ratings System will better reflect the advances in crash-avoidance technologies that help save lives and bring the system in line with the more rigorous testing standards of the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS). The proposed changes are open for public comment for a period of 60 days and a final decision on the changes will be made by the end of this year. It is unlikely consumers will see the new rating system before Model Year 2019.

Compensation for Motor Vehicle Injuries

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident, contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. for help. A Houston personal injury lawyer can help you attain the compensation that you deserve. In the past, we have helped our clients obtain compensation for medical costs, loss of earning capacity, physical pain, mental anguish, physical impairment, disfigurement, and other damages.

Contact The Krist Law Firm, P.C. today to receive your free, no-obligations individual evaluation at (281) 283-8500.