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NHTSA announced this month that it is upgrading its safety ratings program called "More Stars - Safer Cars." The ratings are intended to provide buyers with comprehensive safety information when shopping for a new or used vehicle.

"For American car buyers, our 5-star safety ratings program serves as one of the most trusted and reliable resources to help them select the safest vehicles in the marketplace," says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

For 2013, the program's upgrades mean 85 percent of all 2013 model year vehicles sold in the U.S. will be tested.

Starting in 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 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.

NHTSA’s 5-star safety ratings program has not only served as a guide for safety-conscious consumers, it has encouraged auto makers to strive for ever-greater safety improvements with each succeeding model year,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “The selection of model year 2013 vehicles announced today represents a major milestone for the revamped program, ensuring that our test again covers approximately 85 percent of the new model year vehicles available for sale in the U.S.”

NHTSA will rate 54 vehicles for the 2013 model year, including 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 be posted 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:
NHTSA 2013 vehicle safety ratings