The U.S. government on Tuesday announced plans to update its safety rating system for new cars to include whether the car has technology to avoid crashes, in addition to how well it protects occupants in accidents.
The 5-star rating system now uses crash tests to assess how well people inside are shielded from injury or death in front, side and rollover crashes.
While that will remain a big factor in the ratings, they also will take into account whether the vehicle has sensors that can detect an imminent frontal collision and apply the brakes, or warn drivers about vehicles in their blind spots or that they're drifting into another lane.
In addition, the crash tests will be improved to include accidents in which cars collide at an angle, and they will use improved crash-test dummies that better represent how accidents impact the human body. And the rating system will reward cars designed to protect pedestrians who are struck by them.
"We're going to raise the bar when it comes to protecting vehicle occupants," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
The rating system posts a rating of one to five stars on the window stickers of new cars to help shoppers identify the safest vehicles.
The changes proposed for the system are subject to a 60-day public comment period, and final rules are to be issued next year. Consumers would begin seeing the new ratings on cars in model year 2019.