Auto Manifesto

July 1, 2009

Safety Rulemaking & Research Priorities

The Natinoal Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a request for comments (due Aug. 31, 2009) on its Safety Rulemaking & Research Priority Plan 2009-2011. Here are a few interesting insights gleaned from the report.

In 2007 there were more than 6 million police-reported crashes in the U.S., over 41,000 people were killed, 2.5 million injured, and it is estimated the cost to society was $230 billion (about $750/person).

Four types of crashes account for 85% of all fatal crashes, as well as 75% of all road fatalities (presumably including pedestrians?):

Run-Off-Road (23%)
Rear-End (28%)
Lane Change (9%)
Crossing Path (25%)

Makes sense. The higher the speed and/or directional difference between objects in a collision, the greater the risk.

Light trucks present a higher fatality risk than passenger cars in frontal crashes with other motor vehicles (37% and 32% of fatal crashes, respectively).

Light trucks also present a significant fatality risk in non-collision rollovers, "accounting for 23 percent of crash fatalities."

This will not be helped by CAFE standards which is assessed in part on vehicle footprint, which is based on track width and wheelbase and thus encourages larger overhangs. This reduces vehicle stability compared with placing wheels at the furthest corners of the vehicle.

Crash avoidance programs are the highest priority at NHTSA as they offer the greatest benefits.

Source: NHTSA (Text, PDF)

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