(WASHINGTON) -- Federal safety officials are unveiling new, tougher crash test standards Tuesday for 2011 model year vehicles. Some of the major changes to the rating system include the use of a female-sized crash test dummy. For the first time, the Department of Transportation is using these smaller-sized dummies to help determine how well a vehicle protects in accidents.
"We've raised the bars on safety. More stars safer cars. People really have to prove to us these cars deserve a five-star rating," said Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
Cars will get safety ratings of one to five stars, with five stars being the highest score. Consumers can use the ratings to assess vehicle features, such as forward collision warning systems and crash avoidance.
For automakers, doing well on the test means designing side airbags large enough so women's heads do not slip under them.
The new tests, along with the new ratings, include a side crash into a pole, and front and side impacts with male and female dummies.
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