• Sep 24, 2007
Nicole Nason, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), maintains that the crash standards that have been on the books since 1973 are due for a revision. Recognizing the 9 out of 10 vehicles routinely score either four- or five-stars on the administration's tests, she's seeking to increase the standards for front- and side-impacts, along with more stringent testing of rollover protection.
The move is due to what some feel are antiquated testing measures, as well as the assertion that automakers engineer vehicles specifically to perform well on the current tests. Increased rollover protection is apparently one of the major goals of the administration, and Nason is planning on rewriting a 2005 proposal that would increase roof strength. However, she concedes that it will only save approximately 100 lives per year.

Automakers have contended for some time that the technological saturation point for crash protection is getting closer, and that driver behavior needs to be addressed. Nason maintains that vehicles should be able to overcome mistakes by the user, saying, "The future of automotive safety is crash avoidance technology." Why these two goals can't be addressed simultaneously is anyone's guess.

[Source: Automotive News – Sub. Req.]


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  • 15 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Heavy expensive cars vs. injured for life.

      Hmmm..... What's worth more?
      • 7 Years Ago
      They do realize that even if we drive sherman tanks to work, people are still going to run into each other.

      The path to increased safety is to fix the driver, not the car.

      All this is probably about is that the IIHS is being taken more seriously than the NHTSA now. I don't think they want to lose that control.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Many years ago there was an article in Car And Driver magazine discussing vehicle safety. A gentleman who was much involved in the issue suggested installing a bayonet in steering wheels would go a long way to re-educate drivers in the art of safe driving. With all of the safety technology in today's vehicles it is too easy to assume the car will save you from yourself.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I've got but one thing to say. The feds cannot have it both ways. While I am all for safety, and for more fuel efficient cars, they cannot have both.

      Safety carries a weight penalty, weight carries a fuel penalty. These two bodies needs to fall under one umberlla. CAFE standards should be calculated with allowances for weight penalties incurred by ever chancing safety standards.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Davido your comments are correct. A diesel is more efficient than the gas engine in the E-class.

        However this does not make Mr. Oak's point any less valid. Safety carries a weight penalty. Crumple zones and high strength steal are heavy and almost mandatory to meet the newest safety regulations. Therefore cars have been getting progressively heavier for some time. This weight penalty causes a drop in fuel economy all things held equal.

        Innovations to improve fuel economy are being implemented to combat the weight penalty. However they are not coming on fast enough to combat rising fuel demands.

        The point is that the government and the industry as a whole are trying to have their cake and eat it to. I think it may be near impossible to have safety, economy and price. The government mandates safety and economy. The industry needs a price that the consumer can afford. I think we may be heading to a point where change or concessions will be needed to sustain the automotive industry.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Yes, you can have both. If the ONLY issue that affected fuel consumption was the weight of the vehicle your point would be valid. But, fuel consumption is affected by so many other factors, most of them having to do with powertrain design, some with vehicle aerodynamics, tires etc, that to say that weight is the only issue misses the point. Mercedes proves that everyday with the E-Class. Look at the mileage differences between the gas and diesel versions. Those differences aren't there because the diesel version is lighter.

        I'm surprised that anyone who reads this site and reads about powertrains, both those in current use and those in development could make that statement.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The number one thing this lady should do is get the friggn standardized bumper law re-enacted.

      The latest numbers on Luxury Models showed they have shit for bumpers! from: "the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Many bumpers are flimsy, leading to damage to the grill, hood and headlights, the institute says. "There shouldn't be much or any damage in collisions at these speeds, especially to expensive and presumably well-made cars," said Joe Nolan, a senior vice president at the Institute. The institute conducted four low-speed crashes on 11 2007 luxury vehicles. It found the Infiniti G35, which starts at $31,450, had the highest repair bill, at nearly $14,000 in combined damages for the four tests. In one test involving the front end, the G35's bill was more than $5,000. The Acura TL and Mercedes C Class racked up more than $11,000 in repairs for the four tests while the tab for the Lexus ES nearly topped $11,000. Damage to the Lexus IS cost more than $9,500. Only three vehicles sustained less than $6,000 in damage: the Saab 9-3, Audi A4 and Lincoln MKZ. Other damage estimates included $8,224 for the Volvo S60, $7,554 for the Acura TSX and $6,681 for the BMW 3 Series."

      Imagine, half the cost of your vehicle to repair a 5mph crash!

      They tested a 1984 Ford Escort, with pre-abolished law 5 mph bumpers, and it had ZERO dollars, yes an ESCORT was more crash worthy in daily traffic than a Mercedes C class, or an Infiniti G35.

      This reeks of Insurance Company, Body Shop, and Auto Parts Manufacturers paying off government officials.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Crumpled bumpers actually improves safety. Yeah, it costs more to fix in a minor accident, but it might mean the difference between walking away from a crash or being carried away in a stretcher.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Implying it's an insurance thing isn't sensical: the insurers want cars with cheap-to-repair bumpers. It keeps loss payouts down.

        These poor bumper tests are the result of styling choices, especially among premium cars. Look at the lovingly crafted nose of an Audi A6 or Q7 and tell me that it doesn't look like a big-dollar repair. All that nicely arranged chrome, flush fit and clean lines--that's expensive to duplicate.

        And bumper-bash tests aren't at all correlated to the full collisions tests. That Escort's bumper might be cheap to fix if you hit a parking meter, but it will crush (in a way that, say, a Saab 9-3 will not) and kill you in a high-speed side-impact.
        • 7 Years Ago
        You really do not know anything about auto safety. The cost to repair a damaged bumper has absolutely NOTHING to do with how safe you are in a vehicle. That 1984 Escort, while cheaper to repair, will also leave you crippled or dead in a crash that today's new cars will let you walk away from.

        Also, the dollar figures are a combined total of 4 separate tests. I find it very unlikely that you will get hit twice in the front and twice in the back at speeds of 5mph or less all at the same time.

        Besides that point, once you pay your $500 deductible, why on earth do you care how much the insurance company pays after that? If you are really that worried about how much the insurance premium is for a certain car, make it part of your research BEFORE buying a car.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Crumpled bumpers actually improve safety. Yeah, it costs more to fix in a minor accident, but it might mean the difference between walking away from a crash or being carried away in a stretcher.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Wow, that's awesome.

        It is time that car companies make a frikken effort in this respect.
      • 7 Years Ago
      ...in other news, the NHTSA, the IIHS, NFL Football and sporting goods equipment manufacturer Riddell met today to figure out how helmets and shoulder pads can save drivers and passengers lives in the event of a car crash.
      • 7 Years Ago
      About 40,000 people die in auto accidents every year in the US. About 90% of the fatalities in auto accidents are caused by blunt force trauma to the head. Even if it worked half of the time, we could save 18,000 people every year if we all wore helmets while driving.

      Crazy... I know. Just goes to show that some level of risk is always socially acceptable, and right now 40,000 deaths/yr, doesn't make anyone drive safer.
      • 7 Years Ago
      ONLY 100 lives saved with improved roof standards? That isn't enough people? I think the families of 100 accident victims would surely disagree...especially my close family friend who lost his 18 year old daughter when the roof crushed down in a rollover and killed her 5 years ago. Its amazing how safe modern cars are in some respect and not in others. Volvo is the only car I would want to be in a rollover in; I remember reading somewhere that they are designed to hold 2x the cars weight while upside down. That seems to be the way to do it.
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