New car safety ratings include crash-avoidance technology

Photo: CBS News

WASHINGTON — Government regulators outlined the most significant update to car safety ratings since the 1970s on Tuesday. These are the ratings seen on the window stickers of new cars.

The newly-proposed standards are so strict there is not a car on the road today that would earn five or even four stars.

“Our goal is not to just protect people in the event an accident occurs. We ultimately want to eliminate crashes all together,” said Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.

Among the changes are new crash tests, including one focused on angled frontal crashes, and new high-tech “smart” dummies designed to better reflect the injuries people suffer from head to foot.

“We think as automakers get to five stars, we’re talking about some of the most significant, life-saving opportunism that we’ve ever seen in the automotive industry,” explained National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Mark Rosekind.

He began the program overhaul a year ago when he took over the agency.

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NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. Photo: CBS News

“Every time NHTSA raises the bar, automakers get there. Because this is about saving lives, preventing injuries. And there have been discussions – what should their incentive be? Save those lives, prevent those injuries, don’t let these crashes happen.”

Starting with the 2019 model year, the new car assessment program will include three rankings — adding crash avoidance technology and pedestrian protection to the traditional crash worthiness ranking. It will also include an overall rating.

Accident avoidance technology is already making its way into cars, be it back up cameras or automatic breaking. The trade group representing car makers says its members will review the proposal, but it was generally supportive of the changes.

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