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Five Star Safety Ratings

Five star safety ratings are ways that groups use to assign easily identifiable ratings to restaurants, movies, nightclubs, vacation hot spots, and even cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) uses a five star system to rate the crash safety of new cars as they come out. They crash test automobiles from all the different automakers in order to come up with their results. The goal, of course, is to compel the different car companies to push themselves to produce safety features as comprehensive as technology will allow.

NHTSA Ratings Change for 2011

These ratings have been adjusted for the 2011 model year and going forward. Results from such tests may provide information for free maintenance programs and better understanding of the vehicle as a machine. And the reason is actually one that represents good news for the average buyer: cars have become so much safer that most of them have been acing these tests, and the NHTSA wants to push the automakers to take safety in their vehicles to the next level in order to prevent design complacency. Almost every vehicle in the 2010 model year received the five star rating, and the rest got four star ratings [1], which prompted the NHTSA to make these changes and create a more stringent standard.

Female Crash Test Dummies

In past years, the NHTSA used a medium sized male crash test dummy to represent the driver in all the testing it did. For the 2011 changes, a small female dummy was added. This helps the tests do a better job of representing the people who are actually driving the cars being tested. There are other changes that have been added as well. A side pole test has been added to represent a falling tree or telephone pole striking the side of the car.

Additionally, consumers will be made aware of the presence of crash avoiding technology that is now available on some cars. The technologies included are electronic stability control, lane departure warning systems, and forward collision warning systems. The presence of these technologies is not included in the scoring that a car receives in the NHTSA five star rating system, but it is important enough that cars will now have this information on a window sticker [1].

Overall NHTSA Vehicle Safety Scoring

The other tests that the NHTSA performs will remain the same, but the addition of the additional dummy as well as that new test could very well change the results that they come up with. Significantly, there is also an overall score available, which was always lacking previously. The five star ratings were previously only calculated for individual tests, but they will not be made available for vehicles relative to their total performance, which will make it nice for drivers trying to compare a few different cars they might be thinking of buying. Find a five star rating for your next young driver insurance protection coverage today.

This overall rating is going to be a very fast and simple way for consumers to get a glimpse at the cars that performed the best without being forced to spend a lot of time digesting data on the testing. With the addition of this new overall score plus the other changes that were made, it is possible that many cars which performed well in the 2010 tests will get lower scores in 2011. It will be interesting how these changes impact scoring and the subsequent moves automakers make to adjust. Ultimately, the net result should be a lower rate of serious accident injuries, something that should help many drivers with their car insurance rates. Five star safety ratings are here to stay, but the NHTSA has adjusted and updated them to keep up with evolving technologies and resulting higher expectations.

[1] http://www.edmunds.com/car-safety/nhtsa-revises-five-star-safety-ratings.html Retrieved 2011-01-17.

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