POSTED: Tuesday, October 5, 2010 - 3:50pm
UPDATED: Thursday, November 10, 2011 - 11:48pm
Only two out of 34 vehicles earn top marks under tough new safety standards.
The government is getting tough on cars.
On Tuesday the Transportation Department outlined its new Five-Star safety rating system, making it more difficult for new cars and trucks to earn top grades.
The government says the new system will make it a lot easier to tell just how safe a vehicle is by combining front, side and rollover tests with a new simulation that mimics striking a tree or utility pole.
The new tests also include a closer look at new technologies.
"It will recognize and reward vehicles with advanced safety technology like electronic stability control, lane departure warnings and forward collision warning systems," explained Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
Out of the first vehicles tested in the new program only two earned the coveted Five-Star rating: The BMW "5" series and the Hyundai Sonata.
28 cars received four stars.
The best selling Toyota Camry and Camry Hybrid got three, and the Nissan Versa just two stars.
In a statement Toyota pointed out its Camry had done well under the previous system:
"Engineers are investigating measures to further enhance safety performance so Camry can again obtain outstanding assessment results under the new rating system."
For the first time ever that new rating system uses smaller "female" crash test dummies.
"Small women weren't properly represented and that's what we added into the new program," explained National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief David Strickland.
The nation's highways have been getting safer as well.
In 2009 traffic deaths fell to a record low.
Officials are hoping the new ratings will keep that trend moving while helping point car buyers in the right direction.
The new ratings only apply to new cars, so you can't compare 2011 ratings to 2010.
The government plans to test another 21 vehicles under the new system later this year.