On Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced plans to overhaul current vehicle safety ratings. An increase in car accidents and traffic fatalities on U.S. highways has prompted this change.
NHTSA safety regulators believe stricter standards are needed regarding vehicle front-end crash performance, pedestrian accident avoidance, and a vehicle ability to avoid crashes altogether.
According to data compiled by NHTSA researchers, pedestrian accidents account for nearly 14 percent of all traffic-related fatalities or 4,800 deaths per year. In 2012, rear-end collisions claimed the lives of 1,705 motorists and injured 547,000.
By updating current safety measures, the NHTSA hopes the majority of vehicle-related fatalities can be prevented.
The NHTSA's new safety guidelines, known as the New Car Assessment Program, will require auto manufacturers to install crash avoidance technology in their vehicles before the vehicles can be eligible for a five-star safety rating. A rating of five stars is the highest safety rating available, and many automakers capitalize on high safety ratings as a way to promote and sell their vehicles to consumers.
According to the NHTSA, a number of recent technological advances can qualify as crash avoidance technology, provided the technology helps promote motorist safety by significantly reducing the chances of a fatal accident occurring. Such qualifying technology includes head-on collision deterrents, blind-spot locators, lane-drift detection, automatic rear braking, and automatic emergency braking for pedestrians.
By today's safety standards, most vehicles are eligible to receive a four-star or five-star safety rating without being equipped with all currently available safety measures. However, under the new, tougher guidelines, vehicles equipped with all currently available safety measures would only achieve a three-star safety rating.
To determine new safety ratings, NHTSA safety regulators will subject vehicles to crash tests that have not yet been performed on any vehicle. One of the new tests will evaluate a vehicles performance during an angled head-on collision (a collision where the front corner of a vehicle is impacted, as opposed to a direct hit to the front end. Another test will focus on a vehicles ability to detect and avoid collisions with pedestrians.
The safety test overhaul will also include the addition of two new, technologically advanced crash-test dummies. The new dummies are designed to react to collisions in a manner that is more consistent with how a real, living human would react. The improved test dummies will allow regulators to determine a wider array of potential injuries or crash-related fatalities.
How each vehicle performs in the new crash tests will determine the vehicles' new one- to five-star crash rating. Also, under the new ratings system, vehicles will be eligible to receive half-star ratings, as well as higher ratings for advanced technological capabilities that are not yet standard on all vehicles.
The NHTSA's new safety ratings are scheduled to take effect for all 2019 vehicle makes and models.
Car accidents can cause devastating injuries, property damage, and even death. If you or a loved one, have been the victim of a car accident, call the Sacramento area car accident lawyers at the Arnold Law Firm today. Since 1988 our injury lawyers have been fighting to ensure you receive the justice and compensation you deserve.
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