Report: NHTSA plans major changes for crash test rating system

The NHTSA plans to make major changes to its crash test safety rating system, which are aimed at reducing crashes that result in serious injuries or death.

Each year, there are numerous motor vehicle collisions in the New York City area, and throughout the state. According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, there were nearly 300,000 auto accidents in 2014 alone. Often, such wrecks result in serious injuries or death for the drivers and passengers who are involved. This occurs despite stringent safety ratings for vehicles that are sold in the U.S.

Recently, news sources reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is planning to make major changes to its crash test safety ratings system. The purpose of the proposed overhaul is to decrease the occurrence of car accidents, and increase automobile safety. USA Today reports that the changes would measure how well vehicles avoid crashes, in addition to how they fair in them.

Suggested safety features

In recent years, a number of crash avoidance technologies have been developed. The NHTSA's proposed changes will take into account how vehicles make use of these technologies. According to Reuters, some of the safety features that will be considered include the following:

• Automatic emergency braking

• Blind spot detection

• Forward accident warning

• Lane departure warning

• Rear automatic braking

Currently, these technologies are available in many vehicle makes and models. In most automobiles, however, they are optional features. By including them in the safety ratings, manufacturers may include them as standard technologies for all of their models. The belief is that this may help decrease the number of car collisions, and thus, serious injuries and traffic fatalities.

Updated crash test dummies

In order to assess the safety of vehicle occupants during crash testing, the NHTSA uses crash test dummies. The changes to the current rating system will include employing updated units. USA Today reports that the new crash test dummies will have improved sensors. This will allow those in the auto-safety industry to better predict the injuries that vehicle occupants may sustain in motor vehicle collisions.

Recommended crash test rating changes

Following the overhaul, the NHTSA will continue to use its five-star rating system. According to, however, the regulatory agency will add half-star increments. The aim of this change is to provide more precise rating results. The overall scores that vehicles are assigned will include three sub-ratings - collision worthiness, crash-avoidance systems and pedestrian safety. It has not yet been decided how much weight will be assigned to each category.

New crash tests will also be added to the system to better gauge how automobiles respond in collisions. This includes a frontal oblique collision test, which will help identify how vehicles fair in angled front-end accidents. In addition, the NHTSA will alter its current front barrier test. The changes will help safety regulators to better determine how safe people seated in vehicles' rear seats are during front-end wrecks.

Working with an attorney

Safety features and enhanced regulations are not always enough to prevent serious motor vehicle accidents. Should people in New York suffer serious injuries in such collisions, they may require extensive medical treatment and care. As a result, they might incur undue medical expenses. Depending on the circumstances, however, the drivers who cause such wrecks may be held liable for these, and other damages. Thus, it may benefit people who have experienced such situations to seek legal counsel to understand their rights and options.