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Report: NHTSA needs to update crash tests and safety ratings

| Feb 11, 2020 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Louisiana residents may depend on the safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration when choosing what car to buy. The agency instituted the 5-star safety rating system in the 1990s, basing it on the New Car Assessment Program that it developed in the 1970s. Now, a leader in the development of that program released a report showing how the current rating system does not hold up under certain changes.

The author, who works with the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said in the report that the federal government is not performing enough crash tests. Europe, for example, does four times as many crash tests as the U.S. before rating the safety of its vehicles. The report emphasizes the need for new vehicle safety technology, such as pedestrian detection, to be tested.

NHTSA has, for its part, promised to incorporate such new tests. It also promised to use crash dummies that have been newly designed to more accurately represent vehicle occupants. Yet the promised changes have not materialized. Still, a better rating system based on more thorough crash testing is not enough. Many drivers are curious about how vehicles hold up in real-world circumstances, and this is where the data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System can prove enlightening. FARS data is not accessible to most drivers, though.

Real-world data can show just how motor vehicle collisions occur and what forms of negligence are common. For instance, it is well-known that cars with driver assistance systems are liable to encourage inattention behind the wheel. As for the victims of a crash, they may be eligible for compensation from the at-fault motorist. To see how their case might hold up, they might want to discuss their situation with an experienced attorney.

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