Last December 8, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced plans for a major upgrade to its 5-Star Safety Ratings new car assessment program, effective for vehicles manufactured after January 1, 2019. A major driver behind this announcement has been the heavy criticism from the US Congress following the failure of NHTSA to remedy the GM ignition and Takata airbag defect before they resulted in the deaths of 133 people.

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind took up his post in December 2014 and quickly found himself playing defense against an assault of accusations, especially following the release of the NHTSA Inspector General’s report detailing shortcomings in the agency’s Office of Defects Investigations. In an effort to get ahead of this criticism, Rosekind has moved aggressively to assuage congressional concerns. . .

. . . the new NCAP would incorporate a number of collision avoidance technologies into the five-star rating (rather than listed as recommendations) described as: (1) forward collision warning, (2) crash imminent braking, (3) dynamic brake support, (4) lower beam headlight performance, (5) semi-automatic headlamp beam switching, (6) amber rear turn signal lamps, (7) lane departure warning, (8) rollover resistance, and (9) blind spot detection. NHTSA also plans to include pedestrian collision avoidance and rear automatic braking within its pedestrian safety rating under the NCAP.


The author mentions this possible concern with the process:

Nonetheless, rapid advances in vehicle safety technologies have challenged NHTSA capabilities, especially since the US rulemaking system requires NHTSA to clear a series of high hurdles before any new regulation can be enacted. Unable to rapidly issue changes to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), NHTSA has resorted to a voluntary agreement with automakers on automatic braking and the upgrade to its consumer information NCAP to reassure Congress that it is on the job and up to the challenge of new technologies.

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Save Lives Not Dollars: Urge DOT to Adopt a Vision Zero Policy

John Creamer is the founder of and a partner in The Potomac Alliance, a Washington-based international regulatory affairs consultancy. In his client advisory role, Mr. Creamer is regularly involved with meetings of the UN World Forum for the Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29). Previously, he has held positions with the US International Trade Commission and the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (representing the US automotive supplier industry), as the representative of the US auto parts industry in Japan, and with TRW Inc. (a leading global automotive safety systems supplier).



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