Federal Crashworthiness Regulations Falling Behind

February 8, 2007

The federal government is under increasing pressure to impose tougher regulations on vehicle crashworthiness.

In a long overdue effort, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking into ways to improve its tests and rating system. Many feel however, that the new regulations are likely to fall far short of what is necessary.

In too many cases, the current standard tests fail to accurately assess how a vehicle reacts to collisions that are occurring more often in real life, such as collisions with thin objects (such as trees and light posts), and collisions between two vehicles of drastically different sizes.

Current NHTSA Regulations

The NHTSA sets minimum crashworthiness standards and also forces car manufacturers to test vehicles and report whether they comply with the requirements. It also conducts slightly more rigorous testing of its own on many new models and converts its data to the familiar five-star rating system to show consumers which models are the more crashworthy, and which are more likely to roll over. Theoretically, this should encourage buyers to buy safer vehicles, which should in turn encourage manufacturers to surpass safety requirements.

The Problem

Most agree that these efforts have worked as expected, but the ratings have remained the same for a while now, and as a result, the vast majority of new cars get five-star ratings. This makes it hard for consumers to discern which vehicles are the most safe, and it also does not give manufacturers incentive to produce even safer vehicles.

These tests also have not kept up with the times as large minivans, SUVs and trucks have flooded the streets.

The NHTSA has said that it is not yet capable of addressing crashworthiness issues such as collisions with narrow objects, collisions between small and large vehicles, and rollover protection because more research is necessary.

Victim of Poor Crashworthiness? If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a car accident, and you feel it may have resulted from poor vehicle crashworthiness, you may be able to recover compensation for the injuries and losses you have sustained, including pain, suffering, missed work, medical expenses, and more. Please contact us today for a complimentary consultation with an expert crashworthiness attorney.

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