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Transportation Government United States

NHTSA Toughens Crash Test Rating Standards 165

mrspoonsi sends word that the U.S. government wants to toughen crash tests to measure pedestrian impact and evaluate driver assisting technology. USA Today reports: "U.S. regulators are overhauling the process of assigning safety ratings to new vehicles by proposing requiring more crash-avoidance technologies to achieve a perfect score and adopting new crash-test dummies to assess performance. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Tuesday proposed revising the current ratings system from a single overall score of 1 to 5 into a multifaceted scorecard that would include the score on crash-avoidance systems and a mark for pedestrian safety. Currently, NHTSA ranks cars simply based on crash-worthiness. Five stars is a perfect rating. The number of deaths on U.S. roadways fell to a record-low, based on incidents per miles driven, of 32,675 fatalities in 2014. But an 8% uptick in deaths in the first half of 2015 fueled concern that progress on vehicle safety may have stalled. Under the current system, which hasn't been updated in several years, more than 90% of vehicles earn a rating of at least 4 stars."
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NHTSA Toughens Crash Test Rating Standards

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  • by Bruce66423 ( 1678196 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2015 @08:18PM (#51092169)
    Compare and contrast the response of the government to a few terrorist deaths compared with this, and realise that we have a problem.

    [Full disclosure - I'm a cyclist; I'm very careful around over large chunks of metal hurtling at excessive speed...]
    • Yes. A lot of people.

      There were 32,675 fatalities in 2014 due to cars.

      And no less than 33,169 deaths related to firearms in 2013.

      Given the pervasive use of cars one would consider that having more people killed by guns than by cars should be quite a concern.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by rubycodez ( 864176 )

        60% were suicides. There were 11,000 homicides. two-thirds of those are in big cities. I guess paying people to have babies by random sperm donors as a social experiment has been a failure.

        Meanwhile, I'll be keeping my guns to deal with their uncivilized spawn should they come my way, thank you very much.

        • by L. J. Beauregard ( 111334 ) on Thursday December 10, 2015 @01:38AM (#51093383)

          60% were suicides. There were 11,000 homicides. two-thirds of those are in big cities. I guess paying people to have babies by random sperm donors as a social experiment has been a failure.

          Oh, but abstinence-only edumakashun and defunding Planned Parenthood as a social experiment has been such a success.

          Meanwhile, I'll be keeping my guns to deal with their uncivilized spawn should they come my way, thank you very much.

          That's a roight good plan you got there, guv. Ship the decent-paying jobs overseas, deny people a living wage because Job Creators, keep 'em barefoot and pregnant because Shameless Hussies and then wonder why their "uncivilized spawn" are resorting to violence.

          • "Oh, but abstinence-only edumakashun and defunding Planned Parenthood as a social experiment has been such a success" -- Irrelevant, I didn't say those were good nor did I say I endorsed anyone who held those views

            I have a decent paying job because studied, worked hard, and I've collected skills my whole life, what's the problem? Someone who doesn't do those things finds themselves out of work and needing a handout and that's my fault? guess again

            • That's wonderful for you, and good advice in general. The problem is we only need so many engineers, professors, lawyers, etc. The vast majority of the labor *demand* is for low-skill workers - clerks, janitors, factory workers, etc. Society *needs* most people to work the "lousy" jobs - there aren't anywhere near enough "good" jobs to go around, and society will collapse if those "lousy" jobs don't get done.

              And in the US today, if you're working a lousy job it's basically impossible to get ahead, no mat

      • Given the pervasive use of cars one would consider that having more people killed by guns than by cars should be quite a concern.

        Apples and oranges.

        21,175 of the Y2013 firearm deaths were suicide. 11,208 were homicide. Only 505 were accidental.

        There probably were a few motor vehicle homicides included in the figures, but not a statistically significant number. More suicides, it's hard to say how many... but certainly the vast majority were accidental.

        So, completely different concerns. Easiest way to red

    • Yup. This is long overdue, not all the hand-wringing we're doing over silly code red terrorist crap. After disease, the most likely ways an American will die [nsc.org] are:

      1 in 100 = suicide
      1 in 109 = unintentional poisoning
      1 in 112 = motor vehicle accident
      1 in 144 = falls (mostly elderly)
      1 in 358 = assault by firearm
      ...
      1 in 164,968 = struck by lightning
      1 in 598,009 = terrorist attack (though the latest attack probably dropped this significantly because it's so rare)

      Those annoying commercials telling y
  • Sounds good to me. Part of the point (maybe the biggest part) of these evaluations is so that consumers are equipped to make good, educated decisions when it comes to the cars they purchase. Another is to provide incentive to car manufacturers to actually improve tech. That means evolving standards to always get better. It's very similar to the fleet MPG standards... the best outcome is complete protection for passengers and pedestrians. We know that's not possible, but we know we can do better than we

    • I agree that they need to toughen and expand the standards to reach any given score occasionally, but I think that more than a 1 star move is perhaps too much, because it can lead to confusion over why a 2017 model 2 star model is safer than a 2016 4 star model. It's better that the 2017 stays a 4 star if it adequately improves it's safety, or drops to a 3 if it doesn't.

      On the other hand, this can lead to either widening the scale or doing updates more often.

      That being said, I don't know if it'd be fair to

      • For the first point, I see what you're saying and agree, but at the same time, it sounds like it's not actually going to be a 'star' based system (which is why I was saying 'star equivalent), and I think that gives them the ability rate older models in the new system alongside newer models, without the confusion, since the rating system isn't going to be just the one measurement, if that makes sense. For the second part, I think it's totally fair. I mean, if Tesla is the only company that has put in the w

        • Having reread the article, it seems a pretty standard coverage of a draft proposal set. Sure, they propose a 'multi-faceted' rating, but later they mention one of the approved things is allowing half-star ratings. So the stars will still be around.

          As for Tesla's safety, well, they actually ARE doing something that the other manufacturers can't effectively do - not have an engine in their vehicle.

          Conventional auto manufacturers spend a lot of work on controlling where the engine goes in a crash. With a Te

          • And what exactly is stopping other auto manufacturers from not having an engine in their vehicle? If they choose to keep investing in legacy technology instead, well it's only fitting that their rolling bombs be rated as such.

      • Euro NCap do not rate the Tesla as you do (82% score):

        http://www.euroncap.com/en/res... [euroncap.com]

        Compared to say a similar size Jag XF (92%): http://www.euroncap.com/en/res... [euroncap.com]
  • by gwolf ( 26339 ) <gwolf.gwolf@org> on Wednesday December 09, 2015 @08:23PM (#51092213) Homepage

    More startled than any other part of the summary by how close the number of fatalities was to a 16 bit signed integer? Maybe God does not play dice with the universe, but he does use ancient hardware.

    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      More startled than any other part of the summary by how close the number of fatalities was to a 16 bit signed integer? Maybe God does not play dice with the universe, but he does use ancient hardware.

      Yeah, like some old early-90's Pentium, for example.

  • I think I remember a story that said that collisions with pedestrians is one of the places where EU vehicle safety standards are different from the USA standards in a beneficial way. I wonder if USA vehicles complying with this change makes it one step easier to sell the same cars in both places.
  • At some point it makes sense to say cars are safe enough that, barring an order-of-magnitude improvement, we should stop adding ever more expensive measures for ever diminishing returns in safety.

    Of course there was an increase in deaths in 2015; miles driven are trending up again, having dropped in 2008-9 and then leveled off for a while. It's the raw rate that's up 8%; the per-mile-driven rate is up ~5% ... after being down 5% the year before, and another 5% the year before that, which was up 6% from the

    • "At some point it makes sense to say cars are safe enough that, barring an order-of-magnitude improvement, we should stop adding ever more expensive measures for ever diminishing returns in safety."

      We? I assure you *I* don't add any safety measure to *any* car.

      And why do you think you are more clever than the whole market? As long as they are not mandatory (you can reserve that for those "order-of-magnitude" improvements), market will decide. The important part would be to properly signal the advantages:

      • by BLKMGK ( 34057 )

        Hrm, I think your 17 star rated vehicle would probably weigh ten tons, have tracks, and sacrifice anything around it in order to keep the precious inside safe. Want to stop tailgating? Put a spike on the center of the steering wheel! :D

        I believe better educated people might be better money spent at some point. I'm not sure we've hit that point yet though. Troubleshooting those various system 5 years or more from now is sure going to suck. Getting the ABS working right and continuing to work on one of my veh

      • Any person who hasn't grown up in a hippie commune can tell you that people are selfish assholes and will not pay for measures to improve safety for other people, so the market won't come up with a nice solution. We have drivers who run over people and back up and run over them again to make sure they're dead. A free market solution will be to put spikes on the cars to make it easier to kill pedestrians. Any safety options will be geared towards protecting the occupants of the vehicle.

  • by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2015 @09:25PM (#51092541)

    Is it just me or does that fatality rate seem really high?

    Last year Australia had 1100 deaths or 5 per 100,000
    UK had 1713 in 2013 or 2.85 per 100,000 population
    France had 3250 in 2014 or 4.9 per 100,000 population
    US at 32,675 is 11 per 100,000

    And having a look at average mileage per year Australia is about the same as the US, but double the UK (so call them 5.7) and about 50% more than France (so again call them 7.5).

    But speed limits are slower in the US than all of those examples. So where is it going wrong?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      testing basically.. Australia, UK, and France have more stringent licensing standards, it also cost more money and they often have higher age requirements to get a drivers license.

    • by Bartles ( 1198017 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2015 @09:51PM (#51092681)
      Really, deaths per unit of passenger miles should be the standard. After a cursory examination of statistics it seems it's difficult to find this data.
      • or vehicle miles traveled.
      • But I did correct for average mileage of passenger vehicles per year. So yes UK drivers travel on average half the distance of US drivers, so I doubled their rate of fatalities to 5.7 per 100,000 population.. Australian average annual travel is almost identical to the US....

      • Wikipedia has it listed per vehicle mile [wikipedia.org] (sort the middle column). As you suspect, it levels the death rate out substantially (indicating Americans drive a lot more), with the U.S. clustered with Japan, New Zealand, Belgium, Spain, and Austria. France and Canada very close.

        I would also hypothesize that the poor long-distance rail system in the U.S. also contributes. Most long-haul freight transport in the U.S. is by large trucks. The trucks I saw while driving in Europe were much smaller (and fewer).
        • Long-distance rail isn't that bad in the US; we haul a huge amount of freight by rail. Trucks are used a lot because they're more flexible and can haul to the final point-of-use (like a big Walmart store), but there's a lot of freight that comes by container on a ship from Asia and then gets put on a train. Also, a lot of bulk cargo (like coal) is shipped exclusively by train.

          As for trucks, how often do you see an accident between a semi and a car? They just aren't that frequent; it's stupid car drivers

    • How odd. Speed limits in America highways is 85 max. Other than Germany, What is it in the other nations that are faster?
      • Ah ok. I thought the speed limits were 65 or 70mph for highways. That is what google told me anyway in which case all of Europe is faster. If it is 85mph then no they aren't faster.

        • Federal makes it 85 MPH max with a max of 75 MPH in city limits.
          States have the right to put their own limits on. Here in the west, we typically do 80 or 85 max, though nobody pays attention to it.
          Instead, most will run at 90-95. And in Texas, Idaho, and Montana, it is common to do 100+ with a $5 ticket for speeding up to 20 MPH over if there is light traffic.
          • I think you might have accidentally identified another reason for the difference. 30kph over the limit here in Australia would get you an instant $549 and 6 point fine. Two of those and you lose your license.....

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Lower standards to get a driving licence, cheap powerful cars with poor handling, vehicles that are more likely to cause pedestrian deaths in an accident.

      For example, EU rules require there to be a certain gap between the top of the engine block and the bonnet (hood in US English). When a pedestrian is hit they tend to rotate, slamming their head into the bonnet. The gap gives it room to flex, instead of bringing their skull to a hard stop against the engine, and thus such accidents are much more survivable

  • ...because no one will be able to afford to drive them.
  • large numbers of ppl die in cars. Why? Because they are not as safe as advertised.

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