Report: DOT proposes major changes to NHTSA vehicle safety rating system

The U.S. DOT has proposed major changes for the NHTSA’s vehicle safety rating system to cut down on collisions and improve vehicle safety.

Despite safety features and regulations, numerous people in Georgia, and throughout the U.S., continue to be injured and killed in motor vehicle accidents. In fact, the Governor's Office of Highway Safety in Georgia reports that more than 1,100 people were killed and over 116,000 were injured in auto accidents across the state in 2013 alone. In an effort to improve traffic safety, the U.S. Department of Transportation proposed a major overhaul for the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration's vehicle safety rating system.

Updating crash tests

Among the U.S. DOT's proposed changes are new crash tests, which will help to better gauge vehicle safety. According to the NHTSA, a frontal oblique crash test will be implemented. This test measures how vehicle occupants are protected in angled front collisions. Additionally, the current full frontal barrier crash test will be updated. Safety regulators hope this will push safety improvements for the occupants in vehicles' rear seats.

Improving the rating system

The U.S. DOT also suggested significant changes to the NHTSA's safety ratings. According to the USA Today, the system currently focuses on how automobiles fair in accidents. New vehicles are tested and receive a one to five-star rating. The safest vehicles are awarded five stars.

The proposed changes will build on the current system. Rather than a single scorecard, however, vehicles would receive a multifaceted score that also accounts for their use of crash-avoidance systems and pedestrian protection. The updated rating system would retain the five-star system, but would add half star increments to provide more accurate safety ratings. It is believed these changes will help improve vehicle safety and reduce auto accidents, thereby decreasing the number of serious injuries and deaths resulting from such crashes.

New crash test dummies

Crash test dummies have long been used to identify the effects of auto accidents on the human occupants in vehicles. Along with the other changes, new crash test dummies will also be implemented. These new units are equipped with updated sensors. As such, they will provide better data on how the human body is affected by certain motor vehicle collisions.

Consulting with an attorney

Even with features aimed at reducing traffic accidents and improving vehicle occupant safety, people in Georgia often suffer serious injuries in auto collisions. As a result, they may require extensive medical treatment, which may carry unexpected expenses. When another driver's negligence is the cause of a motor vehicle crash, he or she may be responsible for the resulting damages. Therefore, those who have been injured in such accidents may benefit from discussing their situations with an attorney. A legal representative may help them understand their rights and explain their options for seeking financial compensation.