The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration established a five-star car safety rating system in the 1990s, and it has no doubt helped automakers continue to build safer vehicles. However, one report argues that the system is becoming outdated in the face of technological advances. West Virginia drivers should know that the safety rating is based on a series of crash tests conducted in a lab with crash dummies.
The report, released in October 2019 by a former NHTSA leader in crash testing, argues that the federal government needs to expand its crash testing to incorporate vehicle safety innovations like pedestrian detection. Already, the U.S. is lagging behind Europe, Asia and Latin America in the comprehensive scope of its crash testing. For instance, Europe tests its cars four times as much before rating their safety.
The NHTSA has promised to add new crash test procedures and create ratings for new safety tech. It even intends to use new crash dummies that more accurately reflect the dimensions of real people, yet none of these plans have come to fruition.
Making the data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System more accessible to the average driver may also be helpful. This way, drivers see what sort of on-the-road experience the drivers of a particular vehicle have had.
Such data can also explain how a driver was at fault for a traffic accident. It sometimes happens that a driver becomes inattentive because he or she put too much trust in adaptive cruise control or other driver assistance systems. Whatever the nature of a crash, there is a way for innocent victims to seek compensation. In West Virginia, plaintiffs may be able to recover damages if they are deemed less than 50% at fault. It might be wise for victims to hire a lawyer before filing.