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NHTSA mulling adding small-overlap and angled crash tests

Posted Jan 22nd 2013 6:00PM

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2012 Buick Verano NHTSA crash test - front three-quarter view, post test

For the sake of safer cars, it sounds like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration could be moving to create stricter crash tests that are similar to (and potentially even more rigorous) than what the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently instituted. In an interview with Automotive News, chief NHTSA administrator David Strickland said that the agency is looking into adding a new offset test as well as an angled impact test.

A small overlap test just recently became a part of the barrage of crash tests performed by IIHS where only 25-per cent of the vehicle tested makes contact with a barrier, and Strickland said this is "very similar" to the test being considered by NHTSA. The government agency's current frontal crash tests, as shown above with the five-star-rated Buick Verano, consists of the car hitting a wall head-on, so it isn't clear how much overlap would be considered small for this new test. Another new scenario being investigated is called the oblique test, which involves the test subject hitting a barrier at a fixed angle rather than straight on. Neither test figures to be in use for at least the next couple years or so, but they would undoubtedly make it much harder for cars to receive a five-star crash rating.

2012 Ford Fiesta Crash Test

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