Report: Changes on the horizon for NHTSA crash tests, safety ratings

The NHTSA plans to make major changes to its crash test safety rating system, which would account for vehicle safety, crash avoidance and pedestrian safety.

According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, there were more than 280,000 motor vehicle accidents recorded across the state in 2014. Many of these collisions resulted in serious injuries or death for the occupants of the vehicles that were involved. The prevalence of such crashes persists, despite safety requirements and ratings for vehicles, which are retailed in the U.S.

However, it was recently reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is planning to make significant changes to its crash test safety rating system. The purpose of the proposed overhaul is to help increase vehicle safety and decrease the number of serious auto wrecks.

Recommended safety features

The NHTSA's proposed changes will take into account how well vehicles avoid collisions. This includes gauging their use of certain crash avoidance technologies. These features include the following:

  • Rear automatic braking
  • Lane departure warning
  • Forward accident warning
  • Blind spot detection
  • Automatic emergency braking

Many of these technologies are available in automobiles that are currently on the market. However, they are typically optional features, which often carry additional costs. According to Forbes, this change is aimed at encouraging automakers to integrate these technologies as standard features on their vehicles and consumers to purchase vehicles with these types of features. The belief is that as more and more vehicles are equipped with these technologies, the number of motor vehicle collisions will decrease.

Updating the crash test rating system

Additionally, the NHTSA's system for rating how vehicles fair in auto accidents will also be updated. The USA Today reports that rather than assigning vehicles an overall scorecard, the updates will provide automobiles with multifaceted scorecards. It has not yet been determined how much weight will be assigned to each category, but the ratings will include scores for pedestrian safety and crash avoidance systems, in addition to crash worthiness

The NHTSA will continue to use its five-star rating system, with the safest vehicles being awarded five stars. However, the system will now include half star increments. The aim of these changes is to provide ratings that are more precise. Thus, consumers will have as much information as possible when deciding which vehicles to purchase.

Advanced crash test dummies

In order to gauge the safety of occupants inside of vehicles during crash testing, the NHTSA uses crash test dummies. Along with the other changes that are planned for the rating system, the USA Today reports that the NHTSA will also begin using new crash test dummies. These new units are equipped with improved sensors. This will allow safety regulators to better predict the serious injuries that vehicle occupants might suffer during collisions. As such, they will be able to better determine how safe a vehicle is.

Consulting with a legal representative

Even with safety ratings and requirements, motor vehicle accidents may still occur in Ohio, and throughout the U.S. As a result, people may suffer injuries, which require medical treatment. For many, this leads to undue medical expenses and other damages. However, the drivers who cause such collisions may be held liable in some situations. Therefore, those who have been injured in car crashes may benefit from discussing their rights and options with an attorney.