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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New Upgrades to the Five Star Safety Rating Program

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Announces Improvements to Ratings Tests

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters recently announced that under a new plan to improve the federal government's automobile crash tests and strengthen its five-star vehicle safety rating system, consumers will have better, more complete 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," said Secretary Peters. "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."

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

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

"Enhanced Government Safety Ratings are intended to further the continuous advancement of vehicle safety," said National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator, Nicole R. Nason. "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."

The NHTSA performs rollover and crash tests on new cars and trucks every year, and assigns them a safety rating available on the window label of new vehicles. For nearly 30 years, the five star safety rating system has become the starting point for major safety improvements to new vehicle design. For more information on upgrades to the Government Safety Ratings System, visit

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