NHTSA side-impact pole test – click above to watch the video

Not satisfied with cars that manage crash forces well enough to avoid spilling your drink, and engines that run so clean they'll barely asphyxiate ants, a new crash test is reportedly coming in the works from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Along with the test will come new dummies and new testing equipment, all of which means it's likely to have a big impact on future car designs. The side-impact pole test will simulate side collisions with objects like trees or telephone poles, a type of accident that current side-impact tests don't accurately simulate.

According to The New York Times, the new test will use a 10-inch round pole that will collide with the car at speeds of up to 20 mph. A 75-degree angle will be used, and the point of impact will be just aft of the A-pillar. Naturally, automakers won't have to pass the test all at once, the standard will be phased in. For 2011, 20 percent of an automaker's fleet will have to meet the standard and by 2014, the pole crash standard will be at 100 percent – all new cars will have to comply.

It's a change that could potentially change the face of auto design, the same way pedestrian impact standards in Europe have led to some peculiar front sheetmetal. Materials changes may also be employed to meet the regulation, with additional high-strength steel being substituted. The more conventional metals currently used are easier to form, while stronger metals require all sorts of hot pressing and tempering to be put into shape. Manufacturing cost will go up, which means prices will probably also increase, or profit will decrease while prices hold steady. Safe cars are a laudable goal, but how safe is safe enough? Follow the jump to see a video of how Ford's 2010 Mustang GT convertible and coupe models fare, then let us know what you think by leaving a comment.

[Source: The New York Times]