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A crashworthiness test for the government’s star safety rating system for new model cars and trucks, formally known as the New Car Assessment Program. (U.S. Department of Transportation/NHTSA photo)

By Eric Kulisch, FairWarning

Grade inflation in school makes it difficult to distinguish who is actually achieving in the classroom. The federal government’s vehicle safety rating system suffers the same problem.

Today, 98 percent of all vehicles tested receive four or five stars for crashworthiness. Consumer advocates and safety experts say it’s time to raise the bar for the New Car Assessment Program, which hasn’t been updated in nearly 10 years.

By Myron Levin, FairWarning 

Kayla Davidson and her son, Maxx, who was four-years-old when he died in a rear-end collision in Memphis in April, 2014.

Kayla Davidson and her son, Maxx, who was four-years-old when he died in a rear-end collision in Memphis in April, 2014.

Freakish as it may have seemed, the accident that killed 13-month-old Weston Kingsley was hardly unforeseeable.

On the day he died in February 2014, he was buckled into his car seat behind his father, Jonathon Kingsley, who was at the wheel of the family minivan. Jonathon and his wife, Kelsey, of Old Fort, N.C., were driving the older of their two boys to Sunday school.

As they waited to turn left into the church parking lot, a pickup rammed their 2003 Dodge Caravan from behind, according to court papers. The impact caused Jonathon Kingsley’s seat to collapse backward. Weston was bashed in the head and his skull was fractured–by the seatback, the headrest or Jonathon’s head. The toddler died a few hours later.