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Rollover Study Latest Proof that Feds Failing to Protect Public

March 12, 2008

Rollover Study Latest Proof that Feds Failing to Protect Public

Statement of Joan Claybrook, President, Public Citizen*

The study released today by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety adds to the mountain of evidence that the federal government is not doing enough to protect the public from deadly rollover crashes.

The Institute’s study exposes the junk science that the auto industry has been circulating for years. The automakers have tried to pass off the laughable claim that roof strength has zero relationship to the risks vehicle occupants face in rollover crashes. This study is the last nail in the coffin for that bogus argument.

Additionally, the Institute’s study – which closely follows the methodology used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in its performance tests – underscores what safety experts and consumer advocates have been saying for years: NHTSA’s proposed revision to the 40-year-old roof strength standard is insufficient. Congress instructed NHTSA in the 2005 highways bill to “upgrade” the decades-old standard. NHTSA has chosen to fiddle around at the margins instead of overhauling its outdated safety standard to reflect the best protection possible for the public. The Institute’s study echoes our urgent warnings to the agency that its proposed increase of the roof strength standard from 1.5 to 2.5 times unloaded vehicle weight will not meet the public’s need for safety.

Rollover crashes kill more than 10,000 people every year. It is long past time for NHTSA to listen to the evidence and give the public the upgraded safety standard it so desperately needs.

* Joan Claybrook was NHTSA administrator from 1977-1981.