There won’t be any more charges for safety features that are now optional but required in order to earn a top rating.
The U.S. Department of Transportation proposed on Tuesday that U.S. automakers seeking the industry-standard, which is a 5-star rating and includes crash-avoidance and advanced technologies, including automatic emergency braking systems to vehicles.
These additional features must be included in all 2019 model year vehicles in order to earn the rating. There will be no exceptions. In the past, those features had merely been recommended.
In addition, cars must undergo a new crash test. These new crash tests will be done “using new and more human-like crash test dummies” and also a pedestrian protection assessment before receiving an official safety rating, which will now be measured in half-point increments on a scale of one to five instead of whole-points as it was before..
The changes are great but what does that all mean for car buyers?
In a nutshell, instead of paying extra for features like automatic adjusted steering and automatic braking, those safety upgrades will be standard in new cars starting in about three years.
The base price of cars might increase — the average transaction price for vehicles has been increasing steadily and is now at an all-time high, a trend expected to continue as pricey new tech gadgetry and safety systems are added to new models. So the trade off for a slightly higher sticker price will be a much more safe vehicle for all.
Though car buyers would pay more up front, they’d be saving more in the long-run. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that including automatic emergency brakes in vehicles can reduce insurance injury claims by as much as 35%, meaning more money to spend on non-auto-related expenses.
So more good news: you’ve got plenty of time to start saving for those new, safety feature-filled cars of 2019 today. Three years, to be exact.