High Scores in Car Accident Crash Tests Now Harder to Earn
More than three years have passed since the Bush administration proposed tougher crash tests for vehicles being driven in the United States, the goal being to spur automobile makers to compete harder to implement more effective safety features.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) had primary oversight of that mission, and initial test results based on the new standards that were released last week indicate without a doubt that the tests are more stringent and exacting than those previously in place.
Under the former rating system, for example – based on assigning a star designation between one and five for several different tests performed on each vehicle – many vehicles routinely graded out with top marks.
That system is now completely gone. Cars are no longer given separate scores, for example, on their stability and safety in a frontal crash, side impact collision, rollover and so forth. The new standard now incorporates the results of all those tests into one overall score that considers a vehicle’s relative safety comprehensively. The NHTSA says that doing otherwise – e.g., assigning 4 stars for a side-impact rating, 3 stars for front-impact safety, 5 stars in a rollover – unduly confused consumers.
Vehicles now receive a single rating. Based on the scores just released from initial testing of 34 vehicles, receiving high marks will be a lot harder to attain than in times past; only two of the models – the BMW 5 Series and the Hyundai Sonata – garnered a 5-star rating.
“The tests are harder,” confirms NHTSA head David Strickland. “We hope to push automakers to do more for safety.”