The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) evaluates the safety of new vehicles through its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). As technology continues to evolve, the organization is considering changes in the program in relation to achieving a 5-star rating. It's not just an open-and-shut case, however. The NHTSA is holding a 60-day period of public comment, allowing folks to voice their thoughts on the proposed changes.
What are the changes specifically? The NHTSA outlined six key points, starting with the addition of four driver-assist features: lane-keep assist, pedestrian automatic emergency braking, blind-spot detection, and blind-spot intervention. The proposal also considers the addition of driver monitoring systems as well as additional monitoring for passengers, such as rear-seat detection.
Other proposed changes include strengthening testing procedures for current driver-assist tech already being evaluated, as well as a discussion about developing "a meaningful ratings system for driver-assistance technologies." The proposal includes the creation of a 10-year roadmap for NCAP updates, and of particular interest to new-car shoppers, NHTSA proposes an NCAP rating on new vehicle window stickers.
“NHTSA’s 5-Star Safety Ratings system helps consumers learn more about the safety of new and used vehicles and select the one that’s right for them. The proposed improvements will not only make the program more useful and informative but also keep up with the pace of innovation in vehicle safety,” said Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s deputy administrator.
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The NHTSA has already raised an alarm over traffic deaths, which are presently rising at a record pace in the United States. With driver-assist features becoming more commonplace, there's concern that drivers are paying less attention or worse, misusing the systems to ignore the road completely. A recent study from AAA found most systems were relatively easy to fool for minutes at a time. Consumer Reports began evaluating driver monitoring systems in January and found just two auto companies – Ford and General Motors – earned a ranking.
"There’s a crisis on America’s roadways: 3,000 people die every month, and the numbers have only gotten worse in recent years,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “These important changes will help save lives on our roadways by ensuring that consumers have the information they need about the latest safety technologies when they buy a new vehicle."