trafficThe U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is offering an app for iPhones and iPod Touches that will provide real-time safety information about vehicles, notify consumers about recalls and even help them install child seats.

The NHTSA's SaferCar app taps into the agency’s database, allowing users to to search its 5-Star Safety Ratings for vehicles by make and model, locate car seat installation help, file a vehicle safety complaint, find recall information and subscribe to automatic notices about vehicle recalls.

NHTSA is giving developers access to the data that powers this app through an Application Programming Interface (API), enabling them to integrate these data into new and existing apps and empowering consumers with important safety information.

Real-time info

"This app takes advantage of the latest technology to ensure that consumers have the real-time information they need to buy safe, drive safe and stay safe," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Info that’s available through the app includes:

  • 5-Star Safety Ratings: Consumers considering vehicle purchases can look up crash test ratings and compare them across different makes and models.
  • Recalls and Complaints: App users can stay on top of safety issues for vehicles they already own. Consumers can register their vehicles to be notified by NHTSA if a safety issue is discovered. The app also makes it simple to submit complaints to NHTSA regarding possible safety problems with a particular vehicle.
  • Help Installing Child Seats: Users can quickly get driving directions to the nearest child seat inspection station and get assistance to properly install their car seats and boosters.
  • Safety Headlines and Alerts: App users can receive important news and information from NHTSA, as well as recall notices and push notices on their recorded vehicles.

The current app is the first phase for the SaferCar app for iPhone and iPod Touch devices, which can be downloaded from Apple's iTunes Store. Development is also underway for a version compatible with Android devices.

Earlier this year, the agency also updated resources on its website to enable consumers to quickly locate information on specific safety defect investigations, complaints and vehicle recalls.

NHTSA says it will release an online course to teach developers how to use the new APIs.

Click here for information on downloading the SaferCar app.