DOT site gives users crash data

SaferCar.gov

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A new Web site, Safercar.gov, gives users a detailed look at the data used for determining the safety of passenger vehicles.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, 42,000 fatalities and 3 million injuries occur each year on highways. On the Transportation Department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's 2-month-old site, www.safercar.gov, drivers can see how a given car rates on a variety of safety tests.

The site gives consumers a detailed list of frequently asked questions, with the most recent crash test and rollover ratings and other vehicle safety-related topics.

The site gets approximately 350,000 visitors per month. Agency officials also are planning to migrate the site by the end of the year to its own set of new domain name servers in anticipation of increased traffic as officials begin a campaign to broaden awareness of the site.

The site's centerpiece is the crash test and rollover rating section. Users can search online for the star ratings on vehicles dating back to 1991. The agency has been performing frontal crash tests on vehicles since 1979. Side-impact crash tests are available back to 1997 when the side-impact crash testing program began. Rollover ratings are available back to 2001, when the agency began rating vehicles for their likelihood to rollover.

The rollover ratings just underwent a facelift this past year. Starting with model year 2004 vehicles, rollover ratings now include the results from a rigorous on-the-road tipping test — known as the fishhook — the first of its kind by a government agency.

Other useful information on the site links to data on defects and recalls. Here consumers can file a safety complaint for an alleged defect or check the status of an existing recall for all types of motor vehicles, vehicle equipment or child safety seats.

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