CAS Comments on NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP)
The Center for Auto Safety is the nation’s premier independent, member driven, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
RE: New Car Assessment Program, [Docket No. NHTSA-2021-0002]
June 8, 2022
Thank you the opportunity the comment on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), New Car Assessment Program [Docket No. NHTSA-2021-0002] request for comments (RFC).1 The Center for Auto Safety (CAS), founded in 1970, is an independent, member supported, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy.
CAS supports NHTSA’s proposed update to the New Car Assessment Program(NCAP), although we must note that the scope of the proposed update is far more limited than optimal. NCAP has a number of other areas that need to be addressed, crash avoidance technology ratings being but one. Faced with more choices than ever, consumers need better tools to discriminate between the offerings of various automakers, yet they are met with a wall of 4 and 5 stars that are not sufficient to identify vehicles with superior safety performance. If NCAP ratings remain a participation trophy, then they cannot promote design excellence or safety improvements, and offer subpar assistance to consumers seeking distinguishing information to support their vehicle purchase. Improvements to crashworthiness testing are also overdue, as are corresponding developments to ensure that NCAP helps protect people of all shapes and sizes, and in every vehicle position.
The irreplaceable consumer information provided by the NCAP program now lags behind other international and private assessments of new car safety. Further development of NCAP’s test procedures and increasing use of progressive ratings performance thresholds can maximize the program’s value for consumer education while incentivizing manufacturers to build increasingly safer vehicles.