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Report: NHTSA must update crash tests and safety rating system

Virginia residents may not want to rely solely on crash test results when choosing a vehicle to buy. The issue is that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration may not be performing the most comprehensive crash tests that it can. At least, this is the contention of a report published in October 2019. The author was herself a leader in the formation of the federal agency's New Car Assessment Program in the 1970s.

It was from the New Car Assessment Program that the NHTSA developed a 5-star safety rating system based on crash tests conducted in a laboratory with crash dummies. The system has provided many benefits since the 1990s. However, new vehicle technologies have emerged, which the system is not taking into account. For its part, the agency promised that it would add test procedures and provide ratings for new technologies like pedestrian detection. It even promised that it would improve the design of its crash test dummies. Yet these changes have not materialized.

The report claims that the federal government is lagging behind Europe, Asia and Latin America in this regard. Europe, for example, performs four times as many crash tests as the U.S. before rating the level of safety a vehicle provides. Besides updates, another thing is necessary, according to some experts: making real-world vehicle data accessible to drivers.

Of course, even the safest car cannot prevent a driver from getting into an accident through his or her own fault. As for those who are injured through another's negligence, they may be able to file a claim against the insurance companies and seek compensatory damages. These could cover medical expenses, vehicle repair costs, lost wages, pain and suffering and more. They may want a lawyer to assess the case first. A lawyer may also assist with negotiations.

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