WASHINGTON – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a notice announcing the decision to postpone implementation of its revised 5-star government safety rating program on 2010-model year vehicles. The new ratings will instead be applied to 2011-model year vehicles, allowing OEMs another year to prepare for what the NHTSA considers the most significant changes since the rating program began in 1979 and drivers an additional year to become familiar with the new rating system.

Last July, the NHTSA issued a notice in the Federal Register announcing changes to the agency's New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), to be effective on 2010-model year vehicles tested. The decision to do so would have a significant impact, as the NCAP's testing and safety rating criteria for frontal and side crash, as well as rollover resistance, has not been substantially revised since the program's inception thirty years ago.

The decision to revise the 30-year old ratings system was announced late January 2007, with the NHTSA requesting feedback on a report titled, "The New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) Suggested Approaches for Future Enhancements." In response to its report, the agency received written comments and heard testimony at a public hearing less than two months later in March. However, it wasn't until more than a year later in July 2008 that the NHTSA published its decision in the Federal Register to make changes to the NCAP testing and safety criteria.