NHTSA's SaferCar appConsumers who have iPhones and iPod Touches can now get a new free app that will provide real-time vehicle safety information. The SaferCar app was developed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is working on an Android version that has not been released yet.

As an NHTSA press release reports, SaferCar provides consumers with immediate access to key safety information so that they can make informed decisions, with features that include:

  • 5-Star Safety Ratings: Consumers considering vehicle purchases can look up crash test ratings and compare them across different makes and models.
  • Recalls and Complaints: App users can stay on top of safety issues for vehicles they already own. Consumers can register their vehicles to be notified by NHTSA if a safety issue is discovered. The app also makes it simple to submit complaints to NHTSA regarding possible safety problems with a particular vehicle.
  • Help Installing Child Seats: The app helps consumers ensure their most precious passengers ride safe. Users can quickly get driving directions to the nearest child seat inspection station and get assistance to properly install their car seats and boosters.
  • Safety Headlines and Alerts: App users can receive important news and information from NHTSA, as well as recall notices and push notices on their recorded vehicles.

In an article about the new app in USA TODAY, Jayne O’Donnell quotes NHTSA’s Administrator David Strickland. “The new SaferCar app literally puts the latest in vehicle safety information directly in the hands of consumers so they can make the appropriate purchasing and other decisions for themselves and their families,” he says.

NHTSA announced the new app on Thursday, saying that it coincides with the release of the NHTSA Application Programming Interface (API), a new way for the agency to provide important data on auto safety, including specific defect investigations, complaints, and vehicle recalls. The APIs will provide developers with better, more flexible access to the data for analysis and integration into Web and mobile apps, NHTSA writes.

The release of NHTSA data as an API continues the Obama administration’s commitment towards new and innovative ways of providing open data in easy-to-use formats. The agency plans to provide an online course that teaches developers how to use the new APIs. Millions of consumers already rely on this data on popular car-review websites to help them decide which vehicles to buy. The new app, along with the APIs, will make it possible for people to access the data in real-time. The SaferCar app can be downloaded from Apple’s iTunes Store.

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