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NHTSA crash test updates article highlights:

  • One of the principal vehicle safety agencies, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has proposed an update to the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP).
  • Updates could include new visibility of the pedestrian crashworthiness tests that provide data about how vehicles protect pedestrians during a collision. 
  • The NHTSA’s crash test updates could also include new tests to provide extra data about pedestrian safety and active avoidance measures like automatic emergency braking (AEB). 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is proposing updates to its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). Additionally, the NHTSA issued a request for public comment on the updates. However, this isn’t the first time in recent years that a safety agency overhauled its testing for more comprehensive results. 

A crash test car runs into a pedestrian in a simulation.
European pedestrian safety testing | Lionel Bonaventure, AFP via Getty Images

What updates is the NHTSA making to its crash tests?

The NHTSA says it will, based on its request for public comment, institute new crashworthiness tests. Specifically, the updates will gather data on how vehicles impact pedestrians in collisions. The agency claims that the data from the new tests could reduce the overall number of pedestrian fatalities. 

“Ensuring the safety of pedestrians is a top priority at DOT, and these proposed updates to NCAP are an important step in addressing the crisis of roadway deaths in America,” said Chief Counsel Ann Carlson. The agency claims that new tests could help to hold automakers’ vehicles accountable for pedestrian safety. “Vehicles must be designed to protect their occupants while increasing safety for those outside the vehicle,” Carlson said.

The NHTSA wants to overhaul to protect pedestrians who will use crosswalks like this one.
A Don’t Walk sign | Ben Hasty, MediaNews Group via Reading Eagle via Getty Images

When will the NHTSA update its tests?

The NHTSA said it would take comments on the proposals for 60 days. After that, the agency will likely make decisions on the extent of the updates.  

However, the safety agency isn’t the only one to update its standards and data-gathering; the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently reevaluated several popular vehicle-side crash test results. As a result, vehicles like the 2023 Toyota Corolla earned a Top Safety Pick instead of the agency’s Top Safety Pick+ rating. 

What kind of tests does the NHTSA conduct?

The NHTSA currently evaluates vehicles’ crashworthiness in segments like frontal, side, and rollover tests. Moreover, the safety agency scores safety technology like forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and lane departure warning.

After evaluators take active avoidance measures, passive avoidance measures, and crash test results into account, vehicles get star ratings. Star ratings are based on a one-to-five-star system wherein five stars are the best.


No, Seriously, Don’t Ever Run Someone Over For Any Reason