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Can a new car make your bike ride safer?

NHTSA update of 5-Star Rating System includes crash avoidance technologies for first time


If you’ve bought a car you likely thought about how safe it is. One of the leading safety indicators for cars is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 5-star Safety Rating. These ratings, also known as the New Car Assessment Program, have been applied to new vehicles since 1978. By raising consumer awareness of safety features they have contributed to the adoption of new safety technologies and reduced deaths and injuries for people in cars.

The FAST Act includes a requirement that NHTSA include an assessment of crash avoidance technologies and how people outside of cars are protected, something for which the League advocated. To implement the new law,  NHTSA announced an update to the 5-star Safety Rating and are asking for input. This is an important step to ensuring that everyone who uses our nation’s roadways is safe and the type of change that we need to seriously address the fact that bicyclists and pedestrians represent a rising percentage of traffic-related deaths. If we ever hope to get to zero traffic deaths then vehicles must be made safe for everyone they affect.

However, the current proposed 5-star Rating System assessments are incomplete. They do not assess crash avoidance technologies to ensure that they avoid crashes with people – not just vehicles – and the pedestrian protection assessment does not ensure that other people outside cars, like bicyclists, will be similarly protected.

We are submitting comments asking NHTSA to:

  • Consider the completeness of crash avoidance technologies and whether they are effective at avoiding crashes with all road users when assigning a crash avoidance rating;
  • Include all non-occupants, including bicyclists, in the pedestrian protection rating; and
  • Develop appropriate tests and procedures if the lack of appropriate testing and procedures means that bicyclist crash avoidance and protection cannot be included in the 5-star rating at this time.

Thank you to everyone who told NHTSA that crash avoidance technologies should detect people, not just vehicles. Thanks to your response we submitted 211 of the 284 comments submitted to this docket.

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