Today I announced that one of the nation’s oldest consumer programs is about to get a major facelift. I’m sure you’re familiar with the five-star Government Safety Rating System that has helped Americans know how safe their car or a potential new car might be—now, we’re improving the system to take into account new technologies and overall improvements in vehicle safety.
Today, more and more vehicles are achieving the highest star ratings, and cars today are much safer than they were 30 years ago. We have the Government Safety Ratings System in part to thank for that. However, we recognize that as the safety content in vehicles change, we must also do our part to modify the current ratings so that it continues to enhance safety.
Beginning with the 2010 model year, new Government Safety Ratings will provide consumers with more comprehensive ratings using the same, popular, five-star ranking systems. The new program will make it easier to comparison shop when looking for a safe new car, truck, van or SUV. Indeed, we’re trading in the old program for a newer, more advanced model.
The new ratings will improve passenger safety with challenging new tests and by looking at additional and improved injury data while calculating a vehicles’ crash rating. For the first time, the new ratings will include an overall safety rating that combines the crash tests with the rollover tests. This will take the guess work out of comparing different makes and models, giving consumers more of an apples-to-apples comparison.
The new ratings will also include new front and side crash tests, like the side pole collision test. The idea is simple – as scores improve, we will continually enhance the tests used to generate ratings so that consumers can rest assured that they are using the most up-to-date safety information when making their purchasing decisions.
We will be using a broader array of crash test dummies which represent smaller-statured occupants, such as small women and older children, rather than one-size-fits-all dummies. I know many of you who are parents, or grandparents like me, will rest easier knowing your vehicle has been thoroughly vetted and tested.
We will provide information on technologies designed to help prevent crashes… like electronic stability control, lane departure warning systems and forward collision warning systems so consumers can now factor crash avoidance into their purchasing decisions. Finally, we are making these scores available for a number of makes and models at www.safercar.gov.
At the end of the day, we want to make sure consumers can easily take safety into consideration when choosing a new vehicle along with price, fuel efficiency, size and what color they like best. With this new ratings system, it will be easier than ever for Americans to decide which vehicle meets their family’s demands for both safety and performance.