Auto Safety Under Review

December 15, 2017

The Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are reviewing regulatory policies on roof crush resistance, ejection mitigation, occupant crash protection, and electronic stability control systems for heavy vehicles. “Where the benefits are greater than the costs, as they are for all of the safety standards subject to review, the Center for Auto Safety recommends they remain as written and we urge stricter enforcement to allow for the maximum benefit from these regulations,” said Center for Auto Safety Executive Director, Jason Levine.


Based on NHTSA’s analysis, the benefits to society of the following safety rules outweigh the costs. The rule on ejection mitigation, which prevents passengers from being fully or partially thrown from vehicles, creates $3.55 billion in net benefits annually. The regulation for roof-crush resistance—which prevents intrusion of the roof structure into the passenger compartment of a vehicle—continues to reduce rollover deaths and injuries.  According to NHTSA’s figures, the rule produces $285 to $850 million in annual net benefits. The benefits of occupant crash protection regulation, which can prevent up to 858 injuries annually, exceed the costs by $20-$475 million. Regulation for electronic stability control systems for heavy vehicles—which help prevent rollovers and over-steer and under-steer conditions in trucks and buses—also create more benefits than costs. This rule saves lives and generates $267-$480 million in annual net benefits.


These rules benefit the public and are only now beginning to realize their full potential to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce the economic burden we face due to crashes on the nation’s roads. “The Center for Auto Safety opposes any modification to these standards that would inhibit the implementation and future actualization of this potential,” said Levine. “If anything, these rules could have been strengthened during the rule-making stage to provide additional benefits to consumer safety at a minimal cost to automakers. Now that they are in place, the key to providing the maximum consumer benefit in exchange for the related societal costs is for NHTSA to zealously enforce these regulations, not repeal or weaken them.”


The number of traffic deaths has increased over the last two years, not only in raw numbers (up 5.6% to 37,461 from 2015 to 2016) but also with respect to the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Of the many tools available to National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, writing and enforcing mandatory rules is one of the best ways to minimize or prevent road traffic crashes, save lives, stop injuries, and save money.


To read the Department of Transportation's Notice of Regulatory Review, click here.


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