Last year, we posted how the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration met with the automakers in 2003 to figure out ways to reduce fatalities in car-on-truck or SUV collisions. Pickup trucks and full-size SUVs, because of their greater height, could easily run over the hoods of the smaller, lower sedans and coupes, killing the passengers behind the windshield. The NHTSA and the automakers agreed to voluntary lower the “impact” points of the taller vehicles to reduce fatalities. Automakers also began to introduce new curtain airbags to assist in preventing vehicular injuries and deaths.
The federal agency has released its report on the resulting changes to SUVs and trucks since that time and the results are mixed. While the overall car versus truck/SUV collision fatality figures have dropped eight-percent between 2002 through 2010, much of that was due to the 17-percent decrease in fatalities between cars and SUVs. Fatal crashes between cars and trucks, on the other hand, actually rose five-percent in the same time period.
“There’s a problem with pickup trucks” says Joe Nolan, VP of research for the private Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Reasons for the rise in car/truck fatalities are not exactly clear. Mukul Verma, who had headed the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers committee in establishing the agreement, says the NHTSA’s findings could be based on the different ways the automakers interpret the standards on the impact points. Currently, the NHTSA has no standard test to verify if an automaker’s pickup truck complies with the impact point standard, though it has tests that will show any deviation from it. Spokesperson Lynda Tran says it will bring such issues of concern with the automaker if they’re discovered.
Source: USA Today