By Associated Press Writer
updated 1/8/2007 4:11:49 PM ET 2007-01-08T21:11:49

The government's system for rating new passenger vehicles should be revised to provide more useful information for consumers, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said Monday.

Peters said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would seek changes to its New Car Assessment Program to strengthen frontal, side-impact and rollover testing and measure new crash avoidance technologies more commonly found on vehicles.

"Now is the time for all of us to join together to raise that safety bar even higher. We can never become complacent about saving lives," Peters said at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The proposal would upgrade the frontal test to rate vehicles on their ability to prevent upper leg injuries and the side test to consider how side air bags can protect the driver's head.

It also would consolidate the frontal and side crashes to create a single, summary vehicle rating while measuring crash avoidance technologies such as electronic stability control, lane departure warnings and rear collision avoidance systems.

Some critics have said that most vehicles receive four or five stars under NHTSA's current system, making it difficult for consumers to compare the safety value of similar vehicles.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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