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Last updated on: 22nd of December 2014 at 9:34 am (EST)

NHTSA


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

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      NHTSA is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and is charged with assessing traffic safety and proposing rules for improving automotive safety. Today, all vehicles sold in the United States must comply with federal motor vehicle safety standards[1]. These standards cover a broad range of safety concerns, from windshield wipers and brakes to crashworthiness and fuel integrity. To test compliance with these standards, NHTSA conducts a 30 mph frontal impact test and a 33.5 mph side impact test for all vehicles sold in the U.S. Manufacturers must certify their vehicles to be in compliance with these federal motor vehicle safety standards. Unfortunately, these tests are not very discriminating since NHTSA also conducts informational tests conducted at higher speeds, which result in low crashworthiness ratings for some of the same vehicles that “passed” the compliance tests. Higher speeds create more crash “energy” and inflict potentially more damage on the vehicle and its occupants.

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      NHTSA’s informational crash tests are performed under the program called NCAP (New Car Assessment Program). The ultimate goal of NCAP is to improve occupant safety through high visibility of safety ratings; thereby providing marketplace incentives for vehicle manufacturers to voluntarily design safer vehicles, rather than by regulatory directives.

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      NHTSA ratings used throughout this guide are those conducted under NCAP. Each year the agency chooses new vehicles which are predicted to have high sales volume, or that have been redesigned with structural changes, or with improved safety equipment. This allows focusing their resources to best represent what is actually being purchased in the marketplace. These vehicles are purchased from dealerships from across the country, just as you the consumer would. Since NHTSA selects vehicles for testing based primarily upon high sales volume, not all vehicles are tested.

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      The results of all crash testing performed by NHTSA under the NCAP program and rollover resistance ratings, are published on their website[2]. NHTSA also publishes actual fatality data and statistics through their Fatality Analysis Reporting Systems (FARS) which can be accessed directly at
http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/. .

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NHTSA's Overall Vehicle Score (model year 2011+) (click here for detailed description)

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      The Overall Vehicle Score, also expressed as a star rating, is calculated using the probabilities of injury that are used in determining frontal and side ratings, and a projected probability of injury based on rollover resistance ratings. Values used in the calculation are weighted to reflect the proportion of real world injuries associated with each type of crash. The result is then compared to the average risk of injury across the vehicle fleet to see whether the average risk of injury for a given vehicle is higher or lower than the average. A lower than average risk of injury is better; occupants in these vehicles will be less likely than average to sustain injury in a frontal, side, or rollover crash. Overall Vehicle Scores are assigned as follows:

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5 stars = Overall injury risk for this vehicle is much less than average
4 stars = Overall injury risk for this vehicle is less than average to average
3 stars = Overall injury risk for this vehicle is average to greater than average
2 stars = Overall injury risk for this vehicle is greater than average
1 star = Overall injury risk for this vehicle is much greater than average

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Email questions directly to NHTSA at: crash.test@dot.gov

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[1] CFR Title 49: Chapter V, Part 571.

[2] NHTSA's website: http://www.safercar.gov/

 

 


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Every effort has been made to be accurate and objective, however all information is subject to errors and omissions.

Informed For Life  is a Connecticut nonprofit organization
http://www.informedforlife.org

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