Nicole Nason, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), maintains that the crash standards that have been on the books since 1973 are due for a revision. Recognizing the 9 out of 10 vehicles routinely score either four- or five-stars on the administration's tests, she's seeking to increase the standards for front- and side-impacts, along with more stringent testing of rollover protection.

The move is due to what some feel are antiquated testing measures, as well as the assertion that automakers engineer vehicles specifically to perform well on the current tests. Increased rollover protection is apparently one of the major goals of the administration, and Nason is planning on rewriting a 2005 proposal that would increase roof strength. However, she concedes that it will only save approximately 100 lives per year.

Automakers have contended for some time that the technological saturation point for crash protection is getting closer, and that driver behavior needs to be addressed. Nason maintains that vehicles should be able to overcome mistakes by the user, saying, "The future of automotive safety is crash avoidance technology." Why these two goals can't be addressed simultaneously is anyone's guess.

[Source: Automotive News – Sub. Req.]