It’s a crisis years in the making: Vehicles are getting bigger, leading to a disturbing spike in deaths of people outside cars.
Image: Angie Schmitt
Fatalities and serious injuries among pedestrians and cyclists have skyrocketed by more than 50% in the past decade. But under the federal government’s safety rating system, known as the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), almost every vehicle gets four- or five-star ratings. That’s because the system only takes into account the safety of those within cars, not outside them.
Federal regulators can take steps to address this public health catastrophe. Proposed rules from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would begin rating cars based on their safety impacts to pedestrians. But the changes don’t go far enough. The new rating system incorporates long-overdue technological changes, but misses the opportunity to address the outsized role that vehicle speed, size weight and visibility from the driver’s seat play in determining safety outcomes.
That’s why NACTO is calling on NHTSA to update the NCAP program so that no vehicle receives a five-star safety rating unless it has:
- Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) capable of sensing and protecting people outside vehicles.
- Intelligent speed assistance systems that automatically limit unsafe speeds.
- Pedestrian protection and crashworthiness for people outside the vehicle.
- Direct visibility from the driver’s seat (also known as “direct vision”).
Read NACTO’s full list of recommendations.
In June 2022, over 15,000 stakeholders–from elected officials and transportation experts to concerned educators and parents–joined our call pushing the federal government to update the outdated ratings system that gives misleadingly high safety ratings to the most dangerous vehicles on American roadways. Read what they had to say.
Many cities and transit agencies have also pushed for changes. You can view some of their statements here:
To learn more about the importance of vehicle design in keeping pedestrians safe, check out this webinar, which was organized by America Walks and features a presentation from NACTO: