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Crash Safety: New and Proposed Auto Safety Standards

By: Anapol Weiss

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are once again raising the standards for motor vehicle safety.

Among the changes to improve crashworthiness are tougher requirements for achieving the coveted IIHS Top Safety Pick+ designation, as well as an improved safety rating system proposed by the NHTSA to begin with 2019 model year vehicles.

How Has Top Safety Pick+ Changed?

Requirements for both Top Safety Pick and TSP+ “… are good ratings in the small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests, as well as a standard or optional front crash prevention system,” according to the IIHS.

The winners of TSP+ have a superior- or advanced-rated front crash prevention system with automatic braking capabilities; these models must stop or slow down without driver intervention before hitting a target at designated speeds. Vehicles qualify for Top Safety Pick (but not TSP+) if they have a basic-rated front crash prevention system, which typically doesn’t brake on its own and issues a warning.

It is becoming increasingly challenging for automakers to receive top crash safety ratings. This year’s award for the highest rating requires a “good” rating in the small overlap front crash as well as an available front crash prevention system. As this requirement sets the bar even higher for automakers to receive TSP+, consumers may notice certain popular domestic makes and models did not qualify for TSP+ this go-around.

What is the Proposed Safety Rating System?

The proposed new safety ratings for the NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) will further inform and enable consumers to choose vehicles that will better protect drivers and passengers in automobile accidents, while encouraging car companies to provide better crash protection and more advanced safety technology.

The NCAP will use a new five-star safety rating system to assess technology for crash avoidance, vehicle occupant protection, pedestrian protection, and more. The NHTSA’s new system will dynamically update with emerging safety technologies, and it will use half-stars to provide more discriminating safety information. There’s a 60-day period for public comment on the proposed changes, which will be followed by a decision made by the end of 2016.

What Happens When a Vehicle Defect Hurts Someone?

Improved safety assessments only protect consumers to the point of an automaker’s design and manufacture of a vehicle – safety features must work properly every time without failure. Unfortunately, automotive defects continue to occur, and they result in death and catastrophic injury.

Contact our firm for assistance if you suspect your vehicle failed to properly protect you in an auto collision. Our team has a track record of success representing victims hurt by automotive defects.