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Public Roads - May/June 2017

May/June 2017
Issue No:
Vol. 80 No. 6
Publication Number:
Table of Contents

Internet Watch

New Aims to Make Roads Safer

by Katie Lanham

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people visit the Web site of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, These parents, driver educators, motor vehicle researchers, advocates, and the driving public are all in search of the same thing—information that will help create a safer driving environment for themselves, their loved ones, and the public.

In December 2016, NHTSA launched a new to make it easier to find important information related to traffic safety. From recalls to safety tips, the new site is a helpful tool that supports NHTSA’s goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and major injuries on the Nation’s roadways.

What’s Different

The new site is designed for the public. Topics are presented in easy-to-understand terms and organized to reflect the way consumers think about safety on the Nation’s roads. Using the latest Web technology, best practices in user experience, and responsive design, the site puts popular topics at the fingertips of any user, whether via smartphone, tablet, or computer.

For those looking to discover behavioral issues associated with safety, NHTSA’s aim is to educate. The agency presents its primary topics in a simple manner: (1) What is the problem? (2) What is NHTSA doing about it? and (3) What is the end result? For those who want to dig deeper, keyword tagging and improved search capabilities enable users to find the latest information on a given topic.

The site includes new features and functionality to improve the user experience and make it easier to find more information in one place. For example, the technical team developed an application program interface that, for the first time, pulls information from NHTSA’s safety defects database, its 5-Star Safety Ratings, and from manufacturers to present a complete picture of a vehicle’s safety profile.

One of the key features of the new site is the Safe Cars Save Lives section on the home page. A simple tool enables consumers to enter a vehicle identification number (VIN)—or the year, make, and model of a vehicle—and immediately get all of the latest recall information, crash test ratings, and safety updates related to that specific vehicle.


What’s the Same

All the data, research, stats, legal documentation, and resources that NHTSA has provided to various stakeholders for years remain on the site. At the top right corner of the navigation are direct links to the agency’s rich library of information: “Research & Data,” “Laws & Regulations,” and “Information For.” The latter offers a dropdown menu to select topics by user type: parents and caregivers, those looking to import a vehicle, and vehicle manufacturers. Stakeholders can either self-select from the navigation or use the primary search tool to find the latest reports, research, and data on a topic.

A Site That Saves Lives

The new consolidates all of the agency’s content into one cohesive site. Previously, this information was spread across multiple Web sites, including Now consumers can access the site anywhere, from any device. NHTSA encourages the public to visit the site and explore the new features offered.

“People turn to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration every day for critical, life-saving news and information that directly impacts their lives,” says Jack Danielson, NHTSA’s executive director. “Whether you are on your phone or sitting at your desk, the new Web site makes finding safety information faster and easier. We believe that better access to life-saving information can help all Americans travel safely on our roadways.”

For more information, visit or contact Lucia Sanchez at 202–366–2564 or

Katie Lanham is a Web writer with UIC Government Services/Bowhead and supports NHTSA.