U.S. to propose major changes to vehicle crash ratings

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 08, 2015 1:09 PM

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Auto safety regulators on Tuesday will unveil a major overhaul to U.S. crash safety tests that will require automakers to add crash avoidance technologies to new vehicles if they want to gain the top, five-star ratings, documents showed.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is proposing three new ratings for cars and trucks on pedestrian safety, crash worthiness and crash avoidance under its New Car Assessment Program, according to the document, which was reviewed by Reuters.

NHTSA's proposal would push automakers to add forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind-spot detection, lower beam head lighting, semi-automatic headlamp beam switching, amber rear turn signals, rear automatic braking and pedestrian automatic emergency braking.

For the first time, NHTSA will base the crash test ratings for vehicles on whether the manufacturer has included certain crash avoidance technology. Automakers covet five-star ratings for their vehicles, so the new measures could effectively require manufacturers to make technology currently offered as pricey options on some vehicles standard equipment on all vehicles. That could save lives, but add to the costs of new vehicles.

The new ratings are scheduled to take effect in the 2019 model year. NHTSA would add a new frontal crash test, new pedestrian crashworthiness testing and add two new advanced crash test dummies in testing that would detect additional injuries.

The scores from the three new ratings would be a factor in determining vehicles' overall one-to-five-star crash ratings. Automakers would receive partial credit for advanced technologies that are not standard on all versions of individual vehicles.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Joe White and Matthew Lewis)