The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has expanded the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) to include a new “overall crashworthiness rating” which combines the front-end, side and rollover test results. Initiated in 1979, the NCAP utilizes a five-star rating system to provide consumers with basic safety information about a new vehicle and foster comparison shopping between different makes and models.
The tests employed under the NCAP are basically the same as those required under the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. The NCAP is viewed as a mechanism to encourage automakers to voluntarily improve the safety of their vehicles. The NHTSA compiles and publishes the NCAP information through a brochure and via the website www.safercar.gov.
The automakers are required to incorporate the information into the window price sticker. The new overall crashworthiness rating for passenger cars, pickups, SUVs and vans will begin in model-year 2010. A revised frontal crash test will incorporate a dummy representing a small woman or large child. The side test will include a vehicle striking a pole sideways to simulate a vehicle wrapped around a tree. The NHTSA will publish a list of technical safety features available for each model, such as electronic stability control and forward-collision warning systems. The features will not be factored into the star rating system at this time.
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