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Congress debates crash data stickers on vehicles

November 22, 2010

Tucked away in the $295 billion highway funding bill passed by the Senate last week is a provision requiring automakers to include crash-safety and rollover ratings on the Monroney stickers of all new cars. Manufacturers said they do not oppose the rule and have taken no public position.


Assuming the bill becomes law, industry lobbyists are expected to work to influence the final look of the sticker. Gloria Bergquist of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said, "We’re concerned that increasingly putting so much information on automobiles may have the opposite effect of having consumers not read it because there’s so much information."


Consumer groups strongly support the legislation, knows as "Stars on Cars." They have pushed to provide more information to consumers at new-vehicle showrooms, while creating more demand for safety features.


Earlier this month, the federal General Accountability Office issued a detailed assessment of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s crash test program, saying there was room for improvement.


The GAO found that the star ratings had succeeded in motivating automakers to improve their designs. But with most automakers now routinely achieving four- and five-star ratings, the tests were at risk of losing their relevance.


The highway bill passed by the House differs from the Senate version, so the fate of "Stars on Cars" will be up to a House-Senate conference committee. The Senate bill exceeds the spending limits sought by the House and President Bush.