OMBUDSMAN ALERT – ADVOCATES FOR HIGHWAY & AUTO SAFETY CALL FOR UPGRADING THE U.S. NEW CAR ASSESSMENT PROGRAM [NCAP]

BY DR. LOUIS ALPERT  
Ombudsman

WASHINGTON- The U.S. New Car Assessment Program [NCAP] is out of date and outpaced by existing technology and by NCAP’s in other nations, highway safety advocates agree.

Auto safety leaders marked the 40th anniversary of the U.S. new Car Assessment Program (NCAP) with an event on Capitol Hill celebrating the program’s  past successes and calling for a number of important improvements. A statement from advocates said, “U.S. NCAP is the first improvement program to provide the public with comprehensive auto safety ratings, including crash test results. Changes outlined in a new report released at the press conference would significantly enhance the program and provide more current and robust safety ratings for new cars.”

OMBUDSMAN ALERT in a long-time and ongoing communication with Joan Claybrook, former Administrator of the national Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and one of the founders of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety(Advocates), Claybrook discussed essential changes to the program she helped create 40 years ago,” an upgraded U.S. NCAP will help consumers understand which new cars are truly the safest on the market,” Claybrook said.

”A mere shell of its former self, NCAP is easily manipulated by auto makers seeking a five-star rating, which is nearly irrelevant today because of a reliance on outdated metrics and insufficient types of tests. As a result, consumers are ill-served by a program that at one time provided invaluable auto safety information.What we have learned over the 40-year history of NCAP, is that automakers will respond to higher, more comprehensive ratings by manufacturing safer vehicles,” she continued.

It is vital that Congress and NHTSA act upon the following recommendations to modernize the U.S. NCAP:
1) Boosting pre-crash performance by incorporating proven crash avoidance technology such as automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and blind spot detection.
2) Modernizing and enhancing crash tests,
3) Augmenting safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users.
4) Adding a “silver” rating for older motorist safety issues; and,
5) Improving public access to NCAP ratings.

In Summary, “NCAP was created with the idea that providing safety rating information to the public creates a powerful incentive to manufacture safer automobiles. The 40th anniversary of this groundbreaking program should be honored with a renewed focus on making vehicles safer for all motorists.

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