Report: Major updates proposed for NHTSA’s safety rating system

The NHTSA announced plans to overhaul its vehicle safety rating system to provide more accurate rating scores and push safety improvements.

In 2014 alone, there were 296,049 motor vehicle accidents across Illinois, according to the state's Department of Transportation. Many such collisions result in serious injuries or death for those involved. Unfortunately, this occurs despite measures aimed at increasing vehicle occupant safety. In an effort to reduce the number of car crash-related injuries, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, announced plans to make major updates to its safety rating system.

Updated crash tests

The NHTSA's proposed changes include updating the existing crash tests and adding new assessments. This includes improving the full frontal barrier test and adding a frontal oblique test to push safety advancements for rear seat passengers and to assess how vehicles fair in front angled collisions. Also, new tests will be added to gauge how vehicles protect walkers and joggers when they are involved in pedestrian accidents.

New crash test dummies

Test dummies have long been used to identify the potential effects of motor vehicle crashes on vehicle occupants. As a part of the NHTSA's safety rating overhaul, the regulatory agency will implement new crash test dummies. These models include the worldwide side impact dummy and the test device for human occupant restraint. According to the NHTSA, these new devices are equipped with improved sensors so they will help safety regulators better predict the injuries that drivers and passengers may suffer if they are involved in a car collision.

New rating system

Among the other proposed changes, the NHTSA also plans to update its new vehicle rating system from a single overall score to a multifaceted scorecard. Currently, new automobiles are awarded a rating of between one and five stars based on what happens to them during accidents. After the changes, new vehicles' scores will also take into account how they use advanced crash avoidance technologies and how pedestrians are affected by collisions. According to the NHTSA's announcement, it will also add half star increments to offer more accurate scores for consumers. Barring any delays or opposition, the changes will go into effect beginning with model year 2019 vehicles.

Seeking legal guidance

Even with safety options and measures in place, people in Illinois may suffer serious injuries if they are involved in an auto accident. As a result, they may lose income while they are off of work recovering and incur undue medical expenses. Therefore, it may be of benefit for those who have experienced such situations to consult with a legal representative. A lawyer may explain their options and help them determine the best course of action given their circumstances.