Statement on DOT’s Inclusion of Crash Avoidance Technology in 5-Star Auto Ratings

Announcement Follows Passage of Multi-Year Transportation Bill with a Mandate to Incorporate Crash Avoidance Systems in 5 Star Program Car Window Stickers

December 8, 2015

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Commerce Committee members Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), released the following statements on the Department of Transportation’s announcement it will begin the rulemaking process for incorporating crash avoidance technology into its 5-Star crash rating program that helps make individuals who are shopping for an automobile aware of the crashworthiness and safety technologies that can prevent accidents as part of the window sticker that’s displayed on new vehicles.   

“I congratulate Sen. Heller, Sen. Markey and the House members who co-sponsored the Safety Through Informed Consumers Act that began the effort to include innovative crash avoidance technology in a government safety rating system that currently only considers crash test results,” said Thune. “The Department of Transportation’s announcement follows Senate and House passage of a new mandate in the long-term transportation bill that the president signed into law last week to incorporate innovative safety technology into the 5-Star program. This update is a win both for consumers and innovators – highlighting a vehicle’s advanced safety systems will allow consumers to make informed purchasing decisions, and in turn, spur greater use of these potentially-lifesaving technologies.”

“When ideas in Congress serve as catalysts for positive change for American consumers, it’s a sign we’re doing our job on Capitol Hill.  I’m pleased to see NHTSA moving forward with a plan to modernize the New Car Assessment Program, as required by our Safety Through Informed Consumers Act, enacted as part of the transportation bill.  Incorporating active safety technologies into the program is a great step toward ensuring technologies to prevent crashes are prioritized just like the ones that protect you when an accident occurs. I’d like to thank my colleague Sen. John Thune for his leadership and collaboration as Chairman of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee,” said Heller.

“NHTSA gets a gold star for this taking this important step to modernize its 5-Star crash rating program,” said Markey. “Consumers trust auto window-sticker safety ratings when they compare vehicles, and incorporating features like collision warning and automatic emergency braking will tell consumers how safe their vehicles really are. I thank Senator Heller for his partnership on this issue, and look forward to working together to ensure NHTSA fully and quickly implements the provisions of the transportation bill from our Safety Through Informed Consumers Act that will help protect drivers and their families.”

The 5-Star Safety Ratings System was created by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to provide consumers with information about the crash protection and rollover safety of new vehicles. The program encourages manufacturers to design safer vehicles by giving them safety ratings that can be used by consumers to compare vehicles when shopping for a new car. The safety ratings are posted prominently on the window stickers required to be displayed on all new vehicles.

Innovative safety technologies, such as lane departure warning, forward collision warning, blind spot detection, and assisted braking, are rapidly being developed, improved, and deployed on new automobiles. These types of technologies can save lives by preventing accidents altogether. Sen. Heller introduced S. 1535, the Safety Through Informed Consumers Act of 2015, a bipartisan bill which mandated an expansion of the existing 5-Star program to include these technologies. This legislation was co-sponsored by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and was approved earlier this month as part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, a bipartisan, multi-year surface transportation reauthorization bill that included numerous key provisions authored by Senate Commerce Committee Members, including S. 1535, and was approved by the committee last summer.