• Dec 22, 2008
It seems that every new vehicle receives a "Five Star" rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) these days. In fact, a whopping 98% of all 2007 and 2008 models achieved four or five stars. NHTSA is planning a new ratings system that will make it more difficult to achieve top scores and the new standards were scheduled to take effect for the 2010 model year. But the agency has decided to delay the new testing standards until 2011, giving automakers another year to plan for the test while providing consumers additional time to understand the new rating system. The delay is welcome news for automakers, concerned that the new standards would cause more financial headaches as they attempt to weather the economic downturn. However, NHTSA critic Public Citizen is unhappy with the postponement, saying that it will make the situation tougher for consumers in the long run.

[Source: Azstarnet]


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  • 26 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Can we get the change that says that the roof pillars have to carry 2.5x the vehicles weight dropped now?

      No one is even sure how that can be done on a lot of vehicles. And even if it is, it's going to add a lot of cost and a lot of weight up top where you don't want it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Forgot to add on other obvious possibility:

      Everything's just plain supersized and the weight is the natural (unwelcome) side effect.


      • 6 Years Ago
      I obviously all for safe cars but isnt the main reason cars are so HEAVY these days is due to weight added by safety related structure and equipment? Cars are getting more and more obese which forces them to have bigger engines and less efficiency.

      AND NOW THEY WANT TO INCREASE THE STANDARDS??!!
        • 6 Years Ago
        There is nothing here that even suggests new or more stringent *regulations*, only that the *ratings system* is adjusted to make it more difficult to get a high rating. If the manufacturers want to make the case to sell a one-star crash rated car with great economy (and probably higher insurance rates,) they are free to do so. Seems to me your issue is with the consumers' demand (or perceived demand by manufacturers) for safer vehicles.

        The NHTSA is doing the right thing by increasing its ratings system. It is not providing information to consumers if there is little or no differentiation between the safety of different vehicles.
        • 6 Years Ago
        amen to that. it wasn't that many years ago that a subcompact was "porky" if it weighed 2,200 pounds. now, that same "porky" is 1,000 pounds more than that...and we get really excited if our newly purchased teeny little car gets 32 MPG. news flash folks: that same make and model of the teeny little car you just bought got another 10-15 MPG MORE ten or fifteen years ago. in the meantime, it has grown another foot (or more) in length, seven inches in width, and really packed on the pounds.

        of course, I'm really glad to know that if I'm ever being towed by a cable at exactly 41MPH inside a building, on a glass-smooth floor (no ice, snow, or potholes) and crash into a fixed barrier, I'll be just fine. of course, this has absolutely nothing to do with reality in the real world.

        I've never seen fixed barriers that miraculously hit the car in exactly the same spot in the real world. I HAVE seen lifted 4WD trucks with winches sticking out of the front bumpers, crash head-on into subcompact cars, or even worse, t-bone them. where is the test for this?

        these tests that are held as "the gospel truth" are absolutely worthless in the real world.

        AZMike
      • 6 Years Ago
      "However, NHTSA critic Public Citizen is unhappy with the postponement, saying that it will make the situation tougher for consumers in the long run."

      Yeah, cause god help us if we can't benefit from fuel sipping econocars and diesel.
        mmstowes
        • 6 Years Ago
        Cars today are far safer than they've been in the past (with exception to Chrysler). Perhaps Public Citizen should be whining...I mean, fighting for better drivers....
        • 6 Years Ago
        @Frank
        ...uhmm your recall figures are slightly skewed. You have to remember that when you say GM has a whopping total 1,140 recalls, that you actually mean if you add the recall figures of Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Hummer, Pontiac, Saab, & Saturn you would have a whopping total of 1,410 recalls versus Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln, Mercury & Ford's total of 678 and Chrysler LLC's Dodge, Jeep & Chrysler 419 recalls.

        If you take the total number of brands the recall figures GM's recall figures are slightly lower than Ford
        GM: 1,410 over 8 brands = average of 176.25 recalls per brand
        Ford: 678 over 3 brands= average of 226 recalls per brand
        Chrysler: 419 over 3 brands= average of 104.75 recalls per brand

        P.S. Ford's other brands are usually represented with their own individual data.. Example Jaguar would have X amount and Aston Martin would have X amount individualized from Ford's Total.. The same way sales data is done. That's why GM's other brands (Vauxhall, Holden) weren't included either.
        • 6 Years Ago
        mmstowes:
        "Cars today are far safer than they've been in the past (with exception to Chrysler)."

        Just thought you might like to know that from 2007 to date the Center for Auto Safety reported 419 recalls by Chrysler LLC, 678 recalls by Ford Motor Co, and a whopping 1,410 recalls by General Motors Corp.
        • 6 Years Ago
        a) Chrysler is hardly the lone exception and I'm quite sure they're not suffering safety issues across their entire line. "Safer" is a subjective term often referring to things such as head restraints but ignoring actual crash data in certain situations.

        b) Recalls may or may not have anything to do with safety and recalls aren't necessarily bad things. 'Tis better to recall than sweep it under the rug the way Mitsubishi was caught doing.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This article is, in a nutshell, the reason why cars cost so much today....government regulation. How many European car companies would love to come back to the american market, but won't because of over the top crash and emissions regulations? Azmike had it right, a light weight car today is the 2600 pound honda fit. Ridiculous. The people at NHTSA need to justify their jobs, that is the only reason for the stricter standards.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Honestly, I think we're hitting a saturation point on safety. There's no place left to stick airbags. I mean, knee airbags are cool or whatever, but is there actually a return on investment? As long as my car has systems that prevent death and major injury, I'm willing to take the odds that I'll need a cast for a month rather than cough up an extra $500 per car for the rest of my life.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Is the MAJORITY of the added weight in cars these days from extra or thicker metal in strategic locations? Or is it due to all of the extra 'crap' vehicles are now outfitted with?

      It would be interesting to see a dissected comparison with cataloged and weighed results.
      • 6 Years Ago
      When are they ever going to start testing roof strength? They keep delaying that.
      Has anyone looked at Mercedes and BMW side impact crash results lately? Unacceptable for cars costing that much. It was my first reason for leaving the Mercedes camp. Sad for a company that once prided itself on the issue of safety.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Bunch of idiots: soon we will have to wear a helmet to go for a walk in the park. This nonsense of going overboard cost consumers and companies quite a bundle. My father passes away at 86 and nothing that bad happen to him while he was driving in the 50-70 era.

      This whole thing is ridiculous. Learn how to drive and get the incompetent or addicts off the street.
      • 6 Years Ago
      True, while added safety features add weight, it is there for a purpose: to keep you and those you care about alive. There are much more insignificant additions of weight. If the 70% of all drivers who carry crap around in the trunk with them cleaned up their junk, they would save more weight than all their airbags combined. Which would you prefer, the side airbag that stopped your kid from getting a face full of glass in a collision, or those three bottles of windshield washer fluid you keep in the back? This whole weight addition thing is senseless. Cars are heavy because they've gotten HUGE! As have the expectations of those that drive them. Its true, your old Honda gets 30 mpg, but isn't it an achievement if today we can get the same mileage with a car that is actually comfortable for passengers and can save your life in a crash?

      I'm not saying I agree with the modern trend of bloating new cars, mostly driven by marketing techniques to advertise an easy 'advantage' of outgoing models. But I'd rather see weight trimmings in other areas before those that keep us safe on the road.

      This issue aside, the safest vehicle is one with a good driver - that's a hundred times more valuable than a government 'top safety pick'. Maybe instead of adding airbags we could properly train drivers? Hey, there's an idea.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "This issue aside, the safest vehicle is one with a good driver"

        Amen and +++. You can't legislate that kind of safety, and you can't legislate such logic.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm all for knowing how the car's structure holds up and protects occupants when striking a tree, a pole, a concrete wall, or another car. But please don't make the "nannie" items like stability control and ABS a requirement to recieve a five star rating. I don't want to know how many systems are going to take over in the car, I just want to know how bad I'm going to be maimed if me or the other guy fail to maintain control. For those who do not want to take the time and effort to actually drive thier car skillfully, they should choose to live near public transportation.
      • 6 Years Ago
      @K Ryan Hasse

      Funny how Toyota always has this undeserved halo. The domestics often do better than Toyota in crash testing. In fact Ford has more "best picks" than anyone. Toyota has been catching flack for years for poor head restraints that still haven't been fixed. Honda is more committed to safety than Toyota. They have been offering their "Safety for Everyone" on their vehicles for years now. Basically making all the safety features standard even on basic models.

      The problem with higher testing standards is to compensate automakers will have to build even heavier vehicles that consume more fuel. This is why we are getting about the same fuel economy as we did in the 80's. The added weight will also make them manoeuvrable. So we need to make a choice. Do we want vehicles to get 35mpg or built like foam padded tanks.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Honda has not made all its safety equipment standard on base models. For example, the current Fit has stability control ONLY if you buy the expensive navigation system. The same went for side airbags, etc. in the past.

        More safety != more weight. Sometimes it adds a little, but everyone exaggerates. Stronger frame = high-tensile steel = lighter weight than regular steel but stronger. ABS sensors and airbags don't weigh much. Not even luxury items like sound deadening weigh very much. The number 1 cause of weight gain of a given model has been a vast increase in size. You can't say "a Honda Civic from 20 years ago was lighter and got better gas mileage because it lacked safety features". It was vastly tinier than the current model, so most of the weight gain is just more car, you can't single out some safety devices or stronger frame design... what we now call "sub-compacts" would be called mid-size cars 20 years ago. Current Civic is bigger than 5-10 year old Accord. Current Corolla is bigger than 5-10 year old Camry. Every car gets bigger every redesign. Super size me!
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