NHTSA Chief Addresses Safety Concerns at SAE World Congress

Apr 26, 2010

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration head David Strickland addressed attendees at the annual Society of Automotive Engineers’ World Congress Thursday, laying out solutions for some of the safety concerns facing the automotive industry.

One of the most pressing issues Strickland discussed was the high incident of pedestrian collisions with hybrid vehicles. Strickland said “hybrid electric vehicles do have a significantly higher incidence rate of pedestrian crashes than internal combustion engines for certain maneuvers — like slowing or stopping, backing up, entering or leaving a parking space, and making a turn.”

Other concerns such as back-over accidents and distracted driving were discussed at the event, but some safety experts are advising the NHTSA not to be too hasty in its fixes.

“You have to look at the consequences of improving one aspect of a vehicle that it doesn’t harm another,” said David Champion of Consumer Reports.

For example, wider pillars may prevent roofs from crushing in rollover accidents, but they may impede drivers’ vision.

A global safety standard for all vehicles was cited as an important goal, as well as releasing new safety technologies as soon as they are ready. Ford’s James Vondale warned that “if you don’t roll [new technology] out when it’s ready, you risk litigation [that you didn’t release it quickly or widely enough].”

Photo courtesy of adrian8_8 under the Creative Commons License