For over three decades, consumers have relied on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's 5-Star Safety Ratings System to help them choose the safest vehicle. And since this system was put in place, cars have continued getting safer in order to measure up--a fact reflected in America's declining highway fatalities and injuries.
But even with these successes, our pursuit of safety is never finished. Today, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland and I unveiled a new 5-Star Safety Ratings System that will use more rigorous tests, better crash data, and higher standards to make safety ratings tougher and more meaningful for consumers.
We're raising the bar on safety. And our message is simple: more stars mean safer cars.
The 5-Star Safety Ratings System evaluates the safety of cars using a scale of 1 to 5 stars, with 1 star being the lowest and 5 stars the highest. The new system will measure vehicle safety in three broad areas: frontal crash, side crash, and rollover resistance. The results of these tests will be combined and compared to the results from other vehicles. This will generate an Overall Vehicle Score--a simple, clear safety rating consumers can use when purchasing a car.
In the new system, NHTSA is also:
- Conducting tests using different sized dummies so we can learn about the effects of crashes on both men and women.
- Including side pole crash testing for the first time.
- Collecting injury data on additional areas of the body, including the head, chest, neck, and legs.
- Highlighting cars with new crash avoidance features like Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), and Forward Collision Warning (FCW).
These new standards will be applied to all vehicles produced in 2011 and beyond. For model year 2011, 24 passenger cars, 20 sport utility cars, 2 vans, and nine pickups will be rated under the new system. A full list, with ratings, can be found on SaferCar.gov.
With the rollout of this new system, we hope that automakers will begin pushing the frontier of safety even further. In the short-term, because the new standards are much more rigorous, not all previous 5-star rated vehicles will remain at 5 stars. But, we're confident that manufacturers will step up to the challenge and provide American consumers with even better, safer car choices.
Safety is, and will always be, the top priority of the Department of Transportation. We'll keep holding America's automobiles to the highest standards--and we'll keep giving consumers the tools they need to choose the safest vehicles to drive.