NHTSA Is Taking Initial Steps to Ensure Vehicles Are Safer for People Outside Cars

It Could Do Much More and You Have the Opportunity to Say So

Update to Vehicle Safety

For over a decade, the number of pedestrians and cyclists killed on our streets has steadily risen every year and it’s little secret that the size of today’s cars, SUVs, and trucks fuel this epidemic.

In the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determines vehicle design and safety standards. NHTSA is asking for comment on plans to overhaul the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), its five-star safety rating program that’s advertised to consumers. We commend them for initiating this long-awaited overhaul – the current system ignores many proven innovations and “star inflation” has rendered the ratings almost meaningless. We have specific recommendations on how to improve safety ratings, but that is only a start. The federal government can do so much more to address the harm done by vehicles, and here’s how:

NCAP safety ratings encourage car manufacturers to adopt innovations, but the federal government can also require safety innovations as standard equipment in new cars – just like they did with seatbelts and airbags.  Specifically, NHTSA should require that mature technologies like automatic emergency braking, better headlamps, intelligent speed assistance, redesigned hoods and bumpers, and direct visibility requirements be incorporated directly into the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) that apply to all new vehicles. Similar vehicle safety assessment programs elsewhere across the globe already include these standards and the United States has fallen behind.

What’s at stake?

We support better safety information to guide consumer choices.  But if NHTSA is serious about making streets safe for everyone on them, it needs to add requirements that tackle vehicle size, visibility, and speed directly into the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. 

Vehicle safety standards that save the lives of people outside cars shouldn’t be optional. Want to tell this to NHTSA? Now’s the opportunity! NHTSA is accepting public comments on its changes to NCAP and America Walks has a handy landing page where you can do so with just one click.