Download PDF to print (1.5MB)

5-star logo

Video of the First Frontal Impact Crash Testing

( embedded).

The first consumer information program on vehicle safety was established in 1978, and based on a 35 mph frontal crash test. Today NHTSA's consumer information program is the 5-Star Safety Ratings program ( and contains easily accessible information about crash avoidance technologies, rollover safety, and crash testing for vehicles. The program provides consumers with information about the safety of a new vehicle beyond what is required by Federal law.

In 1969, Dr. William Haddon, then director of the National Highway Safety Bureau, introduced the Haddon Matrix, which applies a public health model to the “epidemic” of traffic-related injury. The matrix illustrates the various stages of a crash and factors that contribute to the crash, thus highlighting the importance of safety from the elimination of physical impairment of the driver to the crashworthiness of the vehicle to the emergency medical response.

Haddon Matrix with examples of safety efforts:

Haddon Matrix with examples of safety efforts Table

Electronic Stability Control

NHTSA established a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) to require electronic stability control (ESC) on passenger cars, multipurpose vehicles, trucks, and buses weighing 10,000 lbs. or less in an effort to reduce rollover crashes. NHTSA estimates ESC could save up to 9,600 lives each year once all light vehicles are equipped with ESC. ESC was first introduced on vehicles in 1995. After thorough evaluation, the FMVSS requiring ESC was finalized in 2007 with a phase-in of ESC on light vehicles and requirement that all 2012 model year vehicles and newer must be equipped with ESC. NHTSA added ESC as a recommended safety technology in 2008 in the 5-Star Government Safety Ratings Program to encourage automakers to manufacture vehicles with ESC, educate consumers about the benefits of ESC, and emphasize the importance of the equipment on vehicles during the phase-in period.