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NHTSA Introduces More Rigorous Crash Testing

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On: Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 4:01PM | By: Chris Weiss


NHTSA Introduces More Rigorous Crash Testing

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has announced that it will begin more rigorous crash testing on 2011 vehicles. The agency plans to test 55 2011 cars and trucks under a tougher five-star rating system. The new system will include new tests and will present consumers with a single overall safety score for each vehicle for the first time. Information about vehicle safety features, like collision warning systems, will also be included as part of the new rating system.

In a press release, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said of the changes: “For over 30 years, NHTSA’s 5-star crash testing program has been the gold standard for consumers looking to buy the safest cars on the market for their families. Now, this great program has gotten even better by making it easier to compare the safety performance of vehicles not only in terms of crash survivability, but in terms of avoiding crashes in the first place.”

The NHTSA will be focusing on 55 models that represent 72 percent of auto sales, including 2011 Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, and Chevy Malibu models. The tested models will include 24 passenger cars, 20 sport utility vehicles, two vans, and nine pickup trucks.

Due to the more in-depth testing, the agency is scaling back the percentage of actual vehicles tested. Last year's tests extended to models accounting for 85 percent of sales, and it's expected to take several years to get that percentage back up under the new five-star system.

The new rating structure, which has been in development for years, includes updated procedures such as a new side impact pole test, new crash test dummie,s and more in-depth assesment of frontal crash impact.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said of the new rating system: “This new testing program significantly raises the safety bar for all vehicle manufacturers and will provide consumers with a great deal more safety information about the cars and trucks they want to buy.”

The move comes at a time when vehicle safety is a particularly hot topic, thanks largely to very public recalls from companies like Toyota. In the wake of those recalls, and the public scrutiny that's followed, the NHTSA has come under some fire from Congress for not investigating safety problems quickly and thoroughly enough.

The first round of tests will be released in September, and consumers will be able to find the ratings on the NHTSA website safecar.gov.




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