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NHTSA Proposes Safety Ratings for Older Drivers and Family Vehicles

Published on Apr 29, 2013 at 8:00 am in Auto Accident.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) already offers safety ratings of vehicles online and via its smartphone app.  However, the agency has proposed making this information more useful to families and older drivers by providing safety ratings that specifically evaluate the safety of these vehicles for families and the elderly.

The agency plans to make changes to the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) to include both a “family” rating and a “silver” rating.  The “family” rating would include information on how well a vehicle protects rear-seat passengers and children, while the “silver” rating would consider the safety of vehicles for older drivers.  These ratings would be added to the NCAP’s already-in-use five-star safety rating system, which has been used since 1978.

The NHTSA is considering these changes in the light of statistics showing that the number of drivers age 65 or older is increasing.  The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) estimates that 16 percent of U.S. drivers currently fall within this age bracket; by 2025, that number could be as high as 20 percent, or one in five.

Because elderly people have less success withstanding the forces of a crash, the proposed “silver” ratings would describe how well a vehicle protects its occupants from crash forces.  Two safety features that may apply to older drivers in particular include inflatable seat belts and technologies that prevent drivers from mistaking the gas pedal for the brake pedal at low speeds.

The “family” rating would measure how well the vehicle protected occupants from crash forces in both the front and rear seats, as well as how well it protected smaller passengers like children.  As many Kentucky car accident attorneys know, vehicle safety features can mean the difference between life and death in some accidents.