DOT calls for new crash tests, tougher rating system

DOT calls for new crash tests, tougher rating system

The US Department of Transportation has proposed a long list of reforms for the New Car Assessment Program.

The proposed changes focus on the five-star rating system, which currently focuses on performance in frontal, side and rollover crash scenarios. The agency plans to broaden the criteria to include assessment of crash-avoidance technology and pedestrian protection.

Vehicles would also be subject to a new frontal oblique test, evaluating new cars and trucks in a crash type “that continues to result in deaths and serious injuries despite the use of seat belts, air bags, and the crashworthy structures of late-model vehicles,” according to a document detailing the changes (PDF).

The agency hopes to revise its full-frontal barrier test to better measure safety for rear-seat occupants, while new crash-test dummies will provide “vastly improved” data on the effects a crash is likely to have on the human body.

The proposed changes are expected to bring a wider range of star ratings between new vehicles. The agency will also begin using half-star increments to provide more discriminating information for comparing vehicles.

“The changes provide more and better information to new-vehicle shoppers that will help accelerate the technology innovations that saves lives,” said US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The DoT is now accepting public comment for the next 60 days. A final decision will come next year, and any changes will not show up until the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration begins assessing 2019-model-year vehicles.

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