NEW YORK -- Test on three 2002 sport utility vehicle models recently showed that in the event of a side-impact crash passengers could have sustained severe or fatal head injuries, the federal government's car safety regulator said.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement released on Thursday its findings -- which may lead to changes on how new cars are evaluated for safety -- emanated from tests on the Daewoo Nubira, the Suzuki Grand Vitara and the Mitsubishi Montero Sport vehicles.
NHTSA said it intends to embark on a review of the current side impact rating system to determine how to best incorporate head injury information and other relevant criteria in the New Car Assessment Program for consumers.
Head injury data is not currently used to determine a vehicle's star rating for side impact, but the agency said that strides in developing a new crash test dummy has boosted confidence in the accuracy of head injury data.
The car safety agency also said it intends this year to propose an upgrade to its side impact standards. General Motors and partners acquired a majority stake in ailing Daewoo Motor Co. last year.