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NHTSA Wants Additional Car Safety Ratings


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is considering adding car safety ratings for older drivers and rear-seat passengers/children. The ratings would be part of its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), which offers five-star safety ratings on a variety of measures.

Car Safety Ratings for Older Drivers

Older drivers and vehicle occupants are more likely to be seriously injured or die in car accidents than younger drivers. In fact, older drivers have the highest death rate of all age groups in serious car accidents.

That is why the NHTSA would like to help seniors understand which cars are the safest for “silver drivers.” Yet, would labeling cars as “safe for seniors” make seniors more apt to purchase them? The director of safety advocacy and research for AAA, Jake Nelson, thinks otherwise. “Seniors don’t typically want ‘older people’ cars,” he said, noting that it may be better to focus on the best safety features, rather than the best cars overall.

Car Safety Ratings for Families

The NHTSA will not run into the same ego issues with families. Parents want cars that will protect their children, and ratings on rear-seat protection can go a long way in helping them make that decision.

There are cars that are safer for young children riding in the backseat, but that knowledge is not widespread. While parents know to keep their children in the back seat and often worry about car seat safety, they would also benefit from knowing how their cars would protect (or wouldn’t protect) their children in the event of a car accident.

Source: The Washington Post, “NHTSA Proposes Older Driver, Family Vehicle Safety Ratings,” Suzanne Kane, Apr. 9, 2013