New Government Vehicle Crash Ratings Scores

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Usually, private industry has figured out how they are going to get around new government rules and safety programs before they ever come out. The credit card industry was already inventing new credit card fees and raising old fees and charges before the new credit card laws took effect. The same thing happens in almost all industries.

It isn’t really the government’s fault. A political system that demands transparency and open rules and regulation creation also gives company’s a sneak-peak at any up coming changes.

However, it seems that there is at least one area that a government safety agency has managed to close the "loopholes" used by manufacturers in the past to conceal any issues with their product.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA announced that they will begin including an overall score in the new enhanced 5-Star Safety Ratings System for new vehicles. This stops company’s from the using the despicable trick of advertising a 5-Start crash rating when what they often really mean is that their car achieved a 5-start rating in one of three areas. The car may have scored 4-Stars or less in the other 3 areas. The net effect is that rather than make their cars safer, many manufacturers build what they were going to build anyway and then deceive the public with fine-print and legal disclosures buried ten pages deep in a document that no one ever reads.

That will be harder to pull off starting today. The new Overall Vehicle Score will be the one that shows up in bold, black letters on all window stickers for new cars (once they get tested) instead of the salesperson pointing out the rating that they want you to see.

In addition, the new ratings standards are higher. After all after 20 years one would HOPE that cars are safer today when the previous crash test ratings standards were put in place. In other words, what was considered very good safety, worthy of a 5-star crash test rating, is no longer good enough to be worthy of 5-star government crash rating in 2011.

Even better, the new overall rating is, in part, based upon how the vehicle compares to other vehicles for safety. In other words, it is no longer good enough to just meet the criteria to call your vehicle 5-Start Safety worthy, it has to be one of the top-tier of safe cars in its class.

Manufacturers and their political allies are always saying that the public should decide what the want for car safety instead of car makers being forced into safety features that add cost to the car and that, according to them, car buyers don’t want. It is obvious that they do not actually believe that, since they go out of their way to conceal how safe the cars they make actually are so that any sub-standard safety features or missing safety improvements do not cost them sales.

With this new rating system, the government has ensured that customers can now legitimately vote with their wallets by buying or not buying cars that are safer, because for the first time, the average customer will be able to tell at a glance if they really are buying a safer car or not. No longer will being an "informed customer" in the area of car safety mean understanding how every safety feature works and how important or cost effective that item is.

It will be interesting to see as the new system comes fully online and gets more and more cars rated how the sales figures of automobiles are affected when customers get clear, up-front, easy to understand data about car safety before they buy. If sales of safer cars start greatly outpacing those of less safe cars, this may be the start of the next revolution of innovation in car design and manufacturing.

Check out the government’s car safety website at www.safercar.gov to see current crash test ratings and details of the cars reviewed and the new standards.

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