Beginning in 2010, along with that year's model vehicles, updated window stickers will show an overall, updated safety rating. The new rating system will combine the results of rollover, side, and frontal impact tests. The newest changes to the testing process will include female crash dummies, which will enable testers to determine the difference between male and female bodily harm during an accident.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is also known as the NHTSA, conducted additional testing for road-worthiness through its latest New Car Assessment Program. The new testing standards will be implemented as a permanent part of the new 2010 guidelines. In addition, new technologies such as warning systems for forward collisions, warning systems for lane departure, and new electronic stability controls will become standard equipment on all new vehicles. Unfortunately, despite the latest developments, the administration does not plan to rate or study the effectiveness of these devices.
Changes to the safety regulations are necessary in order to accurately describe the differences between various makes and models of vehicles, as well as to best indicate which cars are safest for car shoppers. The last time any significant revisions have been made, was way back in 1978, when the NHTSA began to crash cars into a flat, wall-type barrier at around 35 mph, where thereafter rating them accordingly for frontal impact damage and safety. At that time, only 30 percent of the tested vehicles received a four, or even a five, star rating. In 2007, approximately 98 percent of all tested vehicles earned this coveted, high star rating. In today's market, it is exceptionally difficult for car shoppers to determine the safety and performance rating for different vehicles based on the NHTSA ratings alone. Once the new 2010 guidelines are in place, this will all change and consumers can once again shop with confidence.