Peters Announces Upgrades to Five Star Safety Rating Program

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters has announced a plan to improve the federal government's automobile crash tests and strengthen its five-star vehicle safety rating system. According to Peters, this should give consumers better safety information about the vehicles they want to purchase.

"Knowing how many horses a car engine has is important, but knowing how safe a car is before you even step into a dealership ought to be essential," she said. "We want to make sure consumers can easily take safety into consideration when choosing a new vehicle, along with price, fuel efficiency, size, and the color they like best."

Under the improvements to the rating program, vehicles beginning with model year 2010 will for the first time be given an overall safety rating that combines results from frontal, side, and rollover tests. The upgraded system also will include new frontal crash tests and a new side pole test to simulate wrapping a vehicle around a tree, said Peters, further mentioning that female crash dummies will be added to the tests, so women and larger children are represented, and that new testing for leg injuries will be done.

Also for the first time, Peters said, a new rating on emerging advanced technologies will be added so consumers will know whether specific crash avoidance technologies, namely electronic stability control, lane departure warning systems, and forward collision warning systems, are optional or standard features on new vehicles.

"Enhanced Government Safety Ratings are intended to further the continuous advancement of vehicle safety,' said Nicole R. Nason, National Highway Traffic Safety administrator. "In addition to providing important information to consumers, the ratings encourage vehicle manufacturers to continue to design vehicles that reach an even higher level of safety."

Each year, NHTSA performs rollover and crash tests on new cars and trucks and assigns them a safety rating available on the window label of new vehicles. For more information on upgrades to the Government Safety Ratings System, click here.

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