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NHTSA Mobile App Improves Transportation Safety

Volpe supported the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) by developing a mobile application to search vehicle 5-Star Safety Ratings, find child car seat installation help, file vehicle safety complaints, and receive notices or search for vehicle recalls.

This application, called SaferCar, allows users access to information from NHTSA’s SaferCar.gov site. SaferCar allows users to make informed decisions when buying a car based on important safety information and crash test ratings.

Having worked with NHTSA on vehicle recalls and safety complaints for 12 years, Volpe entered development with a clear understanding of the data behind the application and its importance in improving safety.

The Challenge

Transportation safety is the number one priority of U.S. DOT. New tools are being implemented by DOT to enhance vehicle safety, protect the traveling public, and inform consumers.

One challenge in developing this new mobile safety application was designing a robust system that incorporated many features. Volpe designed two other mobile applications previously, but the SaferCar app was more complex with added capabilities. One such feature uses a number of advanced components like scanning, map location, and notifications, which require more time to implement.

The Solution

Volpe has had a long history of work developing, maintaining, and redesigning SaferCar.gov. Leveraging this background, Volpe was able to move quickly with app development, working on advanced features like a function that allows users to scan VIN barcodes with their phones, making it easier to register their vehicles for safety recall notifications.

The mobile app works on the iOS platform and can be used on iPhones and iPods. NHTSA is currently working with Volpe to expand the functionality of the app and is creating a version for the Android platform as well.

The Impact

NHTSA’s SaferCar app is helping the public access actionable vehicle safety information and receive automatic notices about vehicle recalls. Being able to access these data in real-time helps consumers make more informed choices and impacts important safety decisions.

Volpe’s IT and systems architecture expertise resulted in the following SaferCar app features:

  • 5-Star Safety Ratings: Consumers can search crash test ratings for vehicles by make and model and compare different vehicle ratings, making it easy to shop smart at a car dealership.
  • Safety recalls and complaints: Users can enter information for up to 10 vehicles to be notified of safety recalls. The app also makes it simple for users to submit safety complaints about vehicles, helping NHTSA investigate defects and make automobiles safer.
  • Child car seat installation help: Users can access directions, hours, and contact information on the nearest car seat inspection station to get help installing child seats and boosters.
  • Safety news: Consumers can receive news and important safety information from NHTSA, as well as Recall notices on their vehicles that were registered using the SaferCar app.

In addition, NHTSA is giving developers real-time access to the data that supports this application through an application programming interface (API), enabling them to integrate the data into new and existing applications. NHTSA believes this will give consumers better and quicker access to safety information.

Updated: Thursday, December 19, 2013
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