crash test dummiesThe U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says it will test 54 2013 passenger vehicle models as part of its 5-star safety ratings program. The ratings provide car buyers with comprehensive safety information when they're ready to buy a new or used vehicle.

“Safety is a major factor for consumers shopping for a new or used vehicle,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. 

Every year, NHTSA tests vehicles with the highest sales volumes and compares them, using star ratings, to highlight which vehicles go above and beyond what is federally required. Under the updated ratings program – More Stars. Safer Cars. – one star represents the lowest score and five stars represents the highest. Starting with model year 2011, the agency updated its program, adding an overall rating, a new pole test for side crashes and improved crash test dummies including small-statured female crash test dummies. 

The 2013 model year vehicles that will be tested include 33 passenger cars, 16 sport utility vehicles, one van, and four pickups. The program’s crash tests will provide consumer safety information on approximately 85 percent of model year 2013 vehicles sold in the United States, while rollover tests will provide information on 92 percent of the 2013 fleet.

As the vehicles are tested, the results will beposted online. In addition, a number of model year 2013 vehicles had carry-over designs from the previous model year or have already been tested, and these ratings are currently posted online at the agency’s dedicated auto safety web site,

The program encourages automakers to improve crash protection and develop even safer vehicles in order to achieve a coveted government 5-star safety rating. It also highlights advanced safety features, including forward collision warning and lane departure warning systems, which manufacturers are voluntarily installing in vehicles to help prevent crashes. The program recently received international acclaim, with NHTSA earning a Global NCAP Safety Award in May 2012 for establishing the world’s first consumer-driven auto safety ratings program in 1978.

The 5-star safety ratings program has been in existence for more than 30 years.