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Agency to upgrade crash-test rating system

By employing advanced technologies, automobile companies have made strides in building safer cars and trucks. Another contributing factor to automotive safety is the Department of Transportation's crash-test rating system. That testing system is in the process of being updated to provide consumers and automakers with even more information about the safety of vehicles tested.

Since the 1970s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has conducted its New Car Assessment Program. At that time, the assessment consisted of a frontal crash test, in which cars were given one to five stars based on performance. As time passed, the New Car Assessment Program expanded to include a rollover stability rating, a side-impact test, and an advanced braking systems rating.

Recently, the NHTSA proposed adding assessments of advanced crash-avoidance technology as well as a crash test that will simulate frontal collisions that occur at an angle. The agency will even be implementing a new half-star incremented rating system and giving their crash-test dummies an overhaul.

These new upgrades in testing have not been finalized. The agency's plan is to first ask for input from safety and industry groups regarding the proposed changes. It is hoped that the final rules will be issued by the last part of 2016. The new ratings may be available to consumers for 2019 model vehicles.

Yet even with all the effort put forth by the NHTSA and auto companies to try to decrease the number of accidents on the road, the United States has had an increase in highway fatalities in recent months. Although there have been a number of factors cited for this surge, the fact is that to date, the safety standards are not enough to totally eradicate fatal accidents.

Often, such accidents are the result of driver negligence. Driving while intoxicated, while distracted or while fatigued can all lead to serious or even fatal accidents. If you or a member of your family has been injured in a car accident, you may wish to speak to an attorney to learn the full scope of your options for acquiring compensation.

Source: The Chicago Tribune, "New crash-test dummies part of U.S. overhaul of auto ratings," Jeff Plungis, Dec.8, 2015