While many car shoppers say safety is a big factor in their choice of new car, there hasn't been an easy to way to access data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The government agency's website is clunky at best, and close to unusable on mobile devices.
That's why NHTSA decided to release the SaferCar app for mobile iOS devices. Users can easily access crash test ratings, recalls and complaints about hundreds of cars. Use the app to scan your car's VIN and it will even alert you to news and recall notices. The app also helps with the proper installation of child safety seats by directing users to the nearest fire or police station and other entities that can assist.

But possibly a more important piece of news from NHTSA today is that it will open up its databanks and Application Programming Interfaces (API) to other app developers so the data can be used in other apps. NHTSA will even publish an online course to teach programmers how to access and use the APIs.

The free app is available now from Apple's App Store, and you can read more about it in the press release below.
Show full PR text
NHTSA Unveils 'SaferCar' App for iPhones

Free mobile app provides real-time info to help consumers "Buy Safe, Drive Safe, and Stay Safe"

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today announced a new iOS app for iPhones and iPod Touches that will provide real-time vehicle safety information to consumers from NHTSA's SaferCar.gov site. NHTSA's SaferCar app allows users to search its 5-Star Safety Ratings for vehicles by make and model, locate car seat installation help, file a vehicle safety complaint, find recall information and subscribe to automatic notices about vehicle recalls.

NHTSA will also give developers real-time access to the data that powers this app through an Application Programming Interface (API), enabling them to integrate these data into new and existing apps and empowering consumers with important safety information. Millions of consumers already rely on these data to inform their purchasing decisions on popular automobile review sites; now they'll be able to access these data in real-time.

"Safety is our highest priority, and we're always working to find new and better ways for people to access SaferCar, one of the most popular programs on our website," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This app takes advantage of the latest technology to ensure that consumers have the real-time information they need to buy safe, drive safe and stay safe."

The new SaferCar app gives consumers immediate access to key safety information to help them make informed decisions, with features including:

▪ 5-Star Safety Ratings: Consumers considering vehicle purchases can look up crash test ratings and compare them across different makes and models.
▪ Recalls and Complaints: App users can stay on top of safety issues for vehicles they already own. Consumers can register their vehicles to be notified by NHTSA if a safety issue is discovered. The app also makes it simple to submit complaints to NHTSA regarding possible safety problems with a particular vehicle.
▪ Help Installing Child Seats: The app helps consumers ensure their most precious passengers ride safe. Users can quickly get driving directions to the nearest child seat inspection station and get assistance to properly install their car seats and boosters.
▪ Safety Headlines and Alerts: App users can receive important news and information from NHTSA, as well as recall notices and push notices on their recorded vehicles.
"Timely, accurate, and accessible safety data is the lifeblood of our agency's work," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "The new SaferCar app literally puts the latest in vehicle safety information directly in the hands of consumers so they can make the appropriate purchasing and other decisions for themselves and their families."

Today's announcement is just the first phase for the SaferCar app for iPhone and iPod Touch devices, which can be downloaded from Apple's iTunes Store. Development is also underway for a version compatible with Android devices. The launch of the NHTSA app is part of ongoing efforts by the nation's chief automotive safety agency to make it easier for consumers to access and submit information about important vehicle safety concerns. Earlier this year, the agency also updated resources on its www.SaferCar.gov website to enable consumers to quickly locate information on specific safety defect investigations, complaints and vehicle recalls.

The app launch today coincides with the release of the NHTSA Application Programming Interface (API) - a new way to provide these important safety data. The APIs will provide developers with better, more flexible access to the data for analysis and integration into creative, consumer-friendly web and mobile apps.

Unleashing open data in formats that are easy to use in new and innovative ways, while rigorously protecting privacy-has been a priority for the Obama Administration. The release of NHTSA data as an API is a continuation of that commitment.

NHTSA intends to release an online course to teach developers how to use the new APIs.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      This sounds about as useless as those 'free' credit score apps. If you have to check if your car has recalls on a daily basis, you have serious issues.
      • 1 Year Ago
      oh no, i dont like many new vehicles, all vehicles are not good automakers
      Victor A. Frederick
      • 1 Year Ago
      @tranz...so if this doesn't work well we can all blame you? It's a great idea if your into safety ratings, but I like the thought of recall notifications. With a bit of polishing it could work well. Most apps need feedback to impiment their goals. I can also foresee an android vs iPhone debate. Lol