Federal Crash Tests Fail to Account for New Technology

Airbags deployed in a car after a crash test.

One of the most important things that we research and weigh before purchasing a vehicle is its safety. We often look to government crash tests as a means for determining just how safe a vehicle may be. While the five-star rating system and federal crash tests, which have been in play since the 1970s, are considered by many to be the gold standard, they have failed to adequately evolve along with our vehicle safety technology features.

Crash tests were put in place through the New Car Assessment Program as a result of the millions of injuries and deaths that occurred annually from car accidents. Due to the time in which it was implemented, these crash tests take into consideration things like airbags and seatbelts when rating the safety of a car. What they don’t generally account for rating vehicles is newer safety technology, now found in most new vehicles on the market: emergency braking systems, lane departure warnings, blind-spot detectors, and more. 

Due to this shortcoming, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and others now evaluate these features in vehicles and the National Highway Safety Administration now executes these types of tests. 

Manipulation in Federal Crash Tests

A big issue that now plagues government crash tests is manipulation by automakers that build their vehicles with passing the test in mind. Knowing what the government is looking for, they design their vehicles to meet the requirements of the test, but not always for safety in every day life. Additionally, the fact that there are so many four- and five-star rated vehicles, it often lessens the usefulness of the test to begin with; Consumer Reports and other safety groups believe that the test is too easy to pass.

Looking to the Future

Those advocating for enhanced safety want the government to improve three different things in relation to vehicle safety:

  1. Crash Tests
  2. The safety of pedestrians
  3. Crash test dummies

Regarding crash test dummies, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety have called for an upgrade of the frontal crash dummy to one that has been researched over decades: THOR (Test Device for Human Occupancy Restraint). This would improve the legitimacy of the test and is nearly ready to implement.

In 2020 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is requesting public comment on the upgrades it is currently planning. Things continue to move at a slow pace due to the NHTSA’s concern of facing legal challenges. The good news is that the largest U.S. car industry trade group, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, is planning on collaborating with the NHTSA to make improvements. 

Consult with a Qualified Car Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, it can have a big impact on your life – physically, emotionally, and especially financially. That is why you deserve an experienced personal injury attorney who understands the law and knows how it works. Partnering with such an attorney can help to gather the requested police reports and medical records. It is important to have someone in your corner – especially to deal with insurance companies.  

At Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC, we work with our clients to fight for what it is that they deserve. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!

Posted in: Car Accident