NHTSA Could Expand Safety Requirements to Include Pedestrians

In a radical shift from prior policy that singled out passenger safety, new cars could be required to include more features that protect people outside the vehicle.

1 minute read

March 9, 2022, 6:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Sam Aronov / Shutterstock

New cars could soon be required to include more safety features as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) seeks ways to combat a rising number of pedestrian deaths, reports Andrew J. Hawkins.

For the first time, NHTSA will consider the inclusion of advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS — sorry for all the acronyms!) features, like automatic emergency braking, blind-spot detection, and lane-keep assistance. These ADAS features, which are quickly becoming standard in most vehicles today, could become essential criteria for a five-star safety rating from the government.

This signals a shift from prior safety standards, which only assessed the safety of a car's occupants through crash tests, but failed to account for the safety of pedestrians or cyclists. "NHTSA acknowledges that this is no longer a tenable system," writes Hawkins. "For the first time ever, NCAP includes technology recommendations not only for drivers and passengers but for road users outside the vehicle, like pedestrians," according to a statement by Steven Cliff, deputy administrator at NHTSA.

"The idea is to rate automobile safety on a host of new technologies that can stop risky driving behavior before it even occurs. As a result, NCAP tests will become more stringent, and vehicles that don’t include these features are likely to receive a lower rating."

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