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NHTSA's car safety rating system needs upgrading, new report says

In the 1990s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration established a five-star rating system for vehicle safety. Many drivers in New York and across the U.S. rely on this rating when purchasing a vehicle, which is why it's important to know that some experts believe the rating system needs updating. A former leader in the development of NHTSA's crash testing program published a report about this in October 2019.

The author states that the crash testing on which the rating system is based is insufficient. The federal government is lagging behind Europe, Asia and Latin America in this regard. The report states that Europe crash-tests its vehicles four times as much as the U.S. before rating their safety.

The report also points to the need for new test procedures and new ratings for emerging safety technology like pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking. The NHTSA has promised to make these additions and to create new crash test dummies that better represent drivers and passengers. Such changes have yet to be realized, though.

Drivers don't want to rely just on crash test data, which is where the Fatality Analysis Reporting System comes in. Experts say that making FARS data more accessible can help drivers see how well a vehicle protects its occupants in the real world.

Those who are injured in motor vehicle crashes will likely want to know who was at fault and to what degree. If they were largely the victims of another's negligence, then they may file a claim against that driver's auto insurance company. New York is a no-fault state, so third-party insurance claims can only be pursued in the case of severe injuries or disabilities. Victims may find out what their chances of success are after a legal evaluation.

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