The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Society Administration (NHTSA) have announced new safety test regulations for 2010 models, that will make it much more difficult for cars to earn high safety ratings. IIHS says that its “Top Safety Pick” award will not be granted to a car unless it receives a “Good” rating on roof strength tests. As well, NHTSA is working on a tougher crash test system for 2011 models. The new requirements will include a side-impact test, wherein vehicles are smashed into poles.
What this means for the automotive industry is that fewer vehicles will be five-stared rated by the NHTSA and fewer cars will earn the Insurance Institute’s Top Safety Pick. In 2009, 84 vehicles earned the title, and that number is sure to decrease with these new testing requirements. Now, manufacturers must aim to for a higher level of safety, but this doesn’t mean that vehicles will be any less safe, despite the appearance of lower scores.
The Insurance Institute has most recently been focused on roof strength, launching their latest round of testing this past week. The test measured six cars’ ability to withstand the type of roof crushing that occurs when a car is involved in a rollover accident. However, the Insurance Institute will be relying on more than one test to determine the overall safety of a car.
There will be a leisurely phase-in of the new standards, which means manufacturers don’t have to rush to make tougher roofs right away. Between 2012 and 2016 is when the standard is expected to be ushered in, a decision that comes from an unwillingness to force auto makers to adhere to new regulatory demands during a financial crisis.