The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to make changes to its 5-Star Safety Ratings system for new vehicles.
In place since 1978, the agency proposed high-tech changes Tuesday to improve the program that has helped educate new car customers on which vehicles are safest.
Additional crash tests are planned and the use of new, more human-like crash test dummies will provide researchers with better data on the effects on the human body.
The ratings system will also assess the effectiveness of crash-avoidance technology in vehicles as well as pedestrian protection.
"That's been done in Europe for a long time," said Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with Autotrader. "That's one of the most important additions on this whole series of changes," Krebs said.
The agency also plans to rate technologies that offer drivers the most potential to avoid crashes.
"Safety is a number one thing with consumers," Krebs said. "There's been a lot of pressure on NHTSA, of course, with the various recalls to get tougher on safety. There are a lot of new technologies and materials and developments in the industry, so they're trying to keep up with those changes."