The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced it will propose “significant updates and upgrades” to the New Car Assessment Program in 2020, which it says will help the five-star safety rating program “keep pace with advancements in safety technology.”
The more robust five-star safety rating system will involve “new technologies, new test procedures, updates to vehicle labeling, advancements in crash-test dummies, and continued consumer research to ensure (the New Car Assessment Program) products are effectively meeting the public’s needs.” NHTSA also says it will consider revising the way it rates vehicle safety with relation to the safety of pedestrians and other “vulnerable road users” such as cyclists.
“Our program has been a tremendous success and has saved many lives, but far too many American families still lose loved ones every year, and we firmly believe that vehicles can and should be even safer in the future,” NHTSA Acting Administrator James Owens said in a statement. “That is why NHTSA is working on improving the program to make the 5-Star Safety Ratings Program even more dynamic, and to accelerate NCAP modernization to keep pace with advancements in safety technology. American car buyers want safety, and NHTSA wants to help by creating additional market-based incentives for automakers to continue investing in innovative safety technologies that will save lives and prevent injuries.”
NHTSA says it is currently working on a Federal Register Notice, which will be published in 2020, that will seek comments from citizens on upgrades that can be made to the NCAP five-star rating system. With vehicles becoming increasingly safe and automakers rapidly implementing active safety technologies such as collision avoidance assist, NHTSA will be looking to introduce new test procedures that take into account such advancements and ensure they are being properly put to the test before they fall into consumers’ hands.
According to NHTSA data, 36,560 people were killed in traffic accidents in 2018 – a 2.4% decrease from 2017. This improvement was made with the help of safer new vehicles and new safety technologies. 2018 also saw a 10% dip in traffic deaths involving children 14 and younger, a 6% drop in speeding-related deaths and a 5% drop in motorcycle fatalities. Bicyclist and pedestrian deaths are on the rise, however – so we’re sure NHTSA will be paying close attention to pedestrian crash safety standards going forward.