The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has facilities designed to test the safety of a vehicle in a crash. New cars and trucks are put through crash and rollover tests. The result of the tests is a safety rating for the vehicle. The safety rating assigned to a vehicle can have a substantial impact on the market for that vehicle. Auto makers are highly aware of the New Car Assessment Program and many expend significant effort to achieve excellent safety scores.
The NHTSA is now proposing a change to the existing NCAP system. Under the new proposal, vehicle safety ratings would be tailored to specific audiences. Crashworthiness scores would be given to demonstrate the safety of the vehicle for older drivers, as well as a score for families. The purpose of the new scores would be to help people choose the optimum vehicle for their situation by giving them a crash safety score based on their perceived driving needs.
The NCAP system with its five-star safety scale is one of the more obvious ways in which consumers can judge the safety of a new vehicle. The system is now 35-years-old and has helped many people make smarter purchases when choosing a vehicle. As consumers have placed greater emphasis on safety, so have automakers made changes to meet that demand. A more robust NCAP rating could further spur innovation and help drivers avoid deadly accidents.
Source: The Washington Post, “NHTSA Proposes Older Driver, Family Vehicle Safety Ratings,” by Suzanne Kane, 9 April 2013