Getting a five-star crash test rating will get a whole lot tougher with a new proposal from the Bush Administration that would put into effect a requirement for side-impact testing.

Grade inflation is one of the reasons behind the change, and with 87% of all vehicles earning a four- or five-star rating, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) admits that its rating system lacks influence in the car-buying decision (and we all know how much a government agency hates not having sufficient influence).

In addition to a side-impact test that might replicate a broadslide slide into a pole or tree, NHTSA is considering adding weight to the barriers to simulate impacts with heavier vehicles, increasing the speed used in crash tests, and modifying crash-test dummies to better represent smaller female occupants.

[Source: Detroit News]