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Report calls for updating of NHTSA safety ratings

Back in the 1970s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration created a program to perform crash tests with dummies as a way to determine vehicle safety. In the 1990s, this program developed the 5-star safety rating system that many drivers in Florida are no doubt familiar with. While the rating system has certainly helped improve vehicle safety, it may be falling behind the times.

This was the contention of a report released in October 2019 by a member of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. The author points out that the federal government has promised new test procedures for evolving vehicle technology as well as new crash dummies to better represent vehicle occupants, but these have yet to be fulfilled. The U.S. is lagging behind Europe, which conducts four times as many crash tests for rating cars.

Of course, crash tests are not all that car buyers want to rely on, just as one would not take a drug based solely on the results of a clinical trial. Buyers want to look at the on-the-road experience of vehicle owners, too, and there is a database that provides such data: the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. The data can only be understood by experts, leading some to argue for the data to be made more comprehensible through a new rating system.

Vehicle safety features need testing because all too often, drivers will overestimate their ability to prevent car collisions and let themselves become inattentive behind the wheel. This is just one of the many forms of negligence that are contributing to accidents. Occupants of other vehicles who have been injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver might want to meet with an attorney in order to learn how best to go about seeking compensation for their losses.

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