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Chapte r 2

Automotive Safety
Loo kin g Back

7111' firM .~lIsoli'll'-J!OI/J1'rfd fllllOlIIobik, "lIill II)' Kllri BI'JlZ" ill 1885.

The United States became a motorized society dur ing the

20th century, as did 1llllch of the rest of the world. The first
n:corded fatal traffic accident occurred III London in 1896
when an automobile struck an onlooker during a demotl-
str:ltion drive . T he onlooker late r died of head injuries
caused by thc collision. Today, people in thc developing
world drive only 20 percent of the world's or5 but suffer
nearly 90 perce nt of the world's traffic deaths. The World
Heal th Organization, recognizing a growing global health
issue, predicts that by the year 2020 traffic accidents will
be the third leading cause of de:Hh and disability.
/ 1 1924 pilwp. Despite this looming threat, improvements in automotive
safety have occurred throughout the 20th century and into
the 21 st centu ry. r n 1901, Oldsmobile in troduced the first
speedomete r. and in 1908. Genera l Motors introduced the
fir$[ electric headlamp. In r 924. GM opened t he automo-
bile industry's first proving-grollnd f:1cility in Milford.
M1chigan and, over the yean, im proved dummies in cr:lSh
testing th:H helped Ilarrow injury tolerances for humans .
In 1928, shatterproof glass on all vehicle windows was
itHrodtlced; and two years later, tinted windshields to help
eliminate nighttime glare from oncom in g beadlalllps went
imo volume production. R ear-turn signals became standard
equipment on G M cars in 1939. ~ Over the decades ,
these improvements and Illany more - stich as seat belts
and aIr bags - have saved cotlntless lives. Over the decades,
these improve-
In 1966, Congress passed the Highway Safety Act and t he me nts and many
National T raffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, authorizing more - such as
the federal govern men t to set and regulate standards for seat belts and air
moror vehicles and highways. Under the leade rship of bags - have saved
Dr. Wilham Haddon,Jr. , the first administrator of the countless lives .
National Highway Traffi c Safety Administration (N HTSA),
these landmark acts introdu ced many changes in both
vehicle and hIghway des ign . Car manufacture rs were
required to incorporate new safety features - headrests,
energy-absorbing steering colu mn s, shatter-resistant wind-
shields ;Hld safety belts - and 11Ighway construction stan-
darels were improved. H ighways began to be built with
better alerts to curves (teflectors and lin e stripes III the
center and at the edge), improved li ghtin g, barriers se parat-
in g on coming t raffic lanes and guardrai ls. Th e design of
traffic signs also improved, with breakaway features added
to roadside signs and utility poles, especially on inrerstate
highways. By 1970, deaths caused by motor vehicles began
to decline both by the public health measure (dea ths pcr
100,000 population) and the traffic safety indicator (dea ths
per vehicle mile traveled, or VMT).

Since the 19605, N HTSA and the Fede ral Highway

Administration within the U.S. Department of Trans-
portation have provided nation al leadership to the auto-
motive safety movement. Dr. Jeffrey Runge, an emergency
room physic ian, currently heads NHTSA. A month before
he took his post, Run ge witnessed the aftereffects of
a horrific car crash involving teenagers. Sarah Longstreet,
known in her high school for her friendliness and church
:tctivities, had been belted in when a sport utility vehicle
(or SUV) veered across th e ce nterline and plowed over the
hood of her smaller car. Although her air bag inflated just Dr.J~{fr('y Rlil/gr,

as it was meant to, the incompatibility in the design of the NHTSA lltimillislrllfor
Jr<llll 200 I /0 2005,
two cars caused her to die instantly, an unnecessary fatality.
Sarah's death became a motivator for Runge in his new job
as he seeks ways to improve the design o f SUVs and pic kup
trucks to eliminate design incolllp:Hibilities as a cause
for traffic accidents.

Since 1986, the CC/Hcrs for Disease Control and

Prevention (CDC) has funded university-based centers
for injury COlltrol which have pursued researc h all injury
b iomec hanics. epidemiology. preve nt ion, ac ute care and
rehabilitation. In 1992, C DC established the National
Center fo r Injury Prcvcmion ,md Control (NC IPC) to
contribute a public health din:crion to automotive safety
as well as o ther injury areas. NC1 PC targets the high-risk
populations of alcohol-impaired drivers, young drivers, and
passe ngers :l.Ild pcdestriam in an effort to reduce f.1talities
in motO r vehicle accidents. NC IPC advoca tes the usc of
occupant-protection systems includi ng safety belts. child-
safety scats and booster seats.

NC IPC recognizes the role state and local governmencs

play in enacting and enforc ing laws that affect motor
vehicle and highway safety, drive r licensing and testing,
vehicle inspections and traffic regulations. Nonetheless.
federal guidelines influence these state and local decisions.
The awarding of federal highway construct ion funds, for
example. allows the feder:tl government to exert some
control over the way localities enforce rules tha t are
meant to improve highway safety.

, ~ Although auto motive safety in the Un ited States is

ligh t-years ahead of the developing world, nearly 43.000
.nearly 43,000 people still die annually on U.S. highways. Sillce tbe early
people still die 1990s, this number has gradually incrcased as the popula-
annually on U.S. tion has increased - i.e., the de:lth Tatc has changed very
highways. little. Facto rs contributing to the toll include poor design
ofseeonda ry roads, high speeds, drunken drivers, and too
few drivers :t ne! passengers wearing scat bel ts. The highest
rates of traffic deaths arc :H ages 16-24 and 75 and older.
Dea t hs linked to drinking have increased steadily since
1999 despite soci:!.] marketing campaigns and tougher
enforcement designed to curb drinking :l11d driving.
Furthermore, some 19,000 individuals killed in crashes
in 2002 were not wea ring se:lt bdts. with young men
between the ages of 18 and 34 most at risk.

The nUlnber of dea ths from roll overs, which are ca used in
part by design fh ws in SUVs, is an increasing concern. In
fact, 59 percent of the over:lll increase in f.1talities of moror-
vehicle occup:l.Ilts OIllC :tlllong passengers in pickups, vans
:tnd SUVs. Other risks for motor vehicle crashes arc driv-
In g while drowsy, especially among college students and th e
elde rly, and excessive speed. Much more attention is now
being paid to the dangers of sleep-dep rived drivers on the
nation's roadways. Two examples are the increased efforts
to educate drivers about th e need to stop and rest, often
through roadside billboards, :tnd the placement of;\vake-
up" bumps :l.long ro:td shoulders to minimize crashes.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), an ad vocacy

organization formed in ! 980 that now has 600 chapters,
seeks to stop drunk driving by advocating for tough laws
and appropriate sentences . MADD seeks especially to edu-
cate young people about the dangers and consequences of
underage drinking, alcoho l-related traffic crashes, alcohol

poisoning, :tnd other harms resulting from illegal drinking

under th e age of2 1. MADD's message for teens is not
to use alcohol. In :tddition to stopping drunk driving
and unde rage drinking, MADD supportS the victims of
the violent crulle of drunk drivIng. A group of out-
raged wo men in C:l.liforni a formed the organization after
a repeat-offender drunk driver killed a teeJl:tge girl.
... Thanks, ill part, to the effo rts of MADD since its
founding, more than 2,300 drunk-driving laws have been
enacted by state legislatures . These laws range from permis- Thanks , in part ,
sible levels of alcohol in drivers to sanctions against tavern to the effortS of
owne rs who serve drivers who then calise traffic accidents. MAD]) ... more
In 2004, morL' than 16,500 people died in alcohol-related than 2,300
traffic crashes. III 2002, app roximately 1.45 million drivers drunk -driving
were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or laws have been
narcotics. Tbe blood alcohol concentra ti on (UAC) of 0.08 enacted ...
percent, more stringent thall before and now ill effect ill
all 50 states and Washington, D.C., acCOllnts for sOllle of
this increase.

[n addition to the need to prevent drunk drivlIlg, anotho:r

foclls of 311tolllorive safety is illllllig rams who learn to their
surprise that every state reqllires infants to be pl:lced in
child scats. Often, they choose to do without scats bcc:nlse
rhey think they afC IlllaOordable, :llthough a good safcty seat
costs as little as $40 and SOl\le organizations havl" car scat
IO:lner programs. A 1998 study done by rhe Johns Hopkms
Sc hool of Public Health .1nci the Insurance i nstitute for
Highw:ly Safety showed that Hi spanic children be[\veen the
ages of five :l11d 12 an.' 72 percent more likely to die in a

, traffic accidelH th:1I1 non-Hispanic whites of the S:llllC age.

... In 2000. CDC found th:lt the leading causc of de:lth
for Hispanics between the :lges of one :lnd 44 was motor
I n 2000, CDC veh icle accidcnts. The number of H ispanic children from
found that the newborn to age 19 killed in vehicle :lccidenrs in 2000
leading cause jumped nearly 11 percent fi·olll the ye:lr before. to 1,115.
of death for Me:lnwhile, dC:lths among non-Hispanic white children
H ispanics :lctll:llly fell by one percent during the sa me ye:lr.
between the ages
of 1 and 44 was An import'lIlt trend in recent ye:l rs comcs from the
motor vehicle cnJcrmCIH ofCraduatcd D river Licensure (COL) pro-
accidents . g rams to help reduce novice drivers' extremely high
crash rates. CDL allows new drivers to f.1ce increasing
challenges as they becomc Illorc expericnCl·d. Uctwcen
1 ()96 and 2004,40 statcs and W:lshington, D.C. , enacted
three-stage COL progr:llllS. Th e initial stage, requinng
supervision by an older driver, is followed by an inter-
mediate stage that PCrllllts some llllStlpervised driving
whilc cOrltinumg to restnct nighttimc driving and carry-
ing passcngers. The third St:lgc is full liccllSme. Th ese
programs. especi:llly those with more stringcllt require-
ments, h:lve been :lssociated with significant reductions
in crashes of teenage dl"lvers.

Among the many advances in traffic enforccmcnt th:lt

have improved motor vehicle safety :Ire rad:lr detectors,
speed cameras, red-light cameras and :Ieri:ll sUl"veLlbnce.
Traditioml p:ltrol C:lr enforcement has its ILmits. About
a third of 1Il0to r vehicle deaths involve a si ngle vehicle
k:lving the rO:ldway and hitting a fixed object such :l~ :l
tree or utility pole. Pr imarily a rural problem, an IIlcrC:lSlllg
A rrd-li,!!11/ ((I1lI!'''' number of deaths :tre caused by roadside h:lZards.
pIWI",!!mph of"
Related to l111provements in traffic enforcement are traffic
courts . [n 1943, when the United States lost lllore soldi ers
in traffic accidents than in combat,Jarnes Economos began
the AI3A Traffi c Court Program. H e established the first
continuing education program for judges and the first
application of computers to court administration. I-I e also
proposed the first anti- drunk driving law based on percent-
ages of alcohol in the driver's blood and popuJariud the
Model Rules Governing Procedure in Traffic Cases, which
helped eliminate ticket-fixing.

Ongoing improvements in automobile design also con-

tribute to driver arid passenger safety. Engines in sOllie

A flemollslmriOIl of arllomorh,c (rumple ZOIl CS ill " (rash rrsr.

vehicles are mounted to drop down immediately upon

impact, saving front seat passengers frOIll having an engine
driven directly into them. Tires have been designed with
II1tetior walls that absorb the worst effects of blowouts and
allow a car to be pulled over safely to the side of the road.
Daytime running lights, lon g required in Scandinavia with
its limited daylight during winter l11omh s, have become
more prevalent in the U.S. :llld have been showll to help
reduce traffic accidents, specifically when visibility is
impaired by fog or smoke.

... H ighway construct ion improvements have also be ell

key to improving automotive safety. Evidence- based traffic
engineering measures arc designed to reduce pedestrian Highway
injury and death by managing vehicle speed . separating con struction
pedestrians frorn vehicles and increasing pedestrian visi- improvements
bility. Pedestr ian deaths are primarily an urban problem and have also been
significant among the elderly; even with improving num - key to improving
bers - pedestrian deaths per! 00,000 decreased 5! percent automotive safety.
bt'{WCI.'Il 1975 and 2002 - rh<:y ~till account for II pt'rccnr
of motor vehiclt' de:lths. Among the comrr uction Improve-
ments rh:H h:lve led to safer highw:lYs :'Irc fumble strips
that alert drowsy drivcrs rhcy :lfC leaving the roadway and
feflective rO:lci ma rh'fS that enhance visibility. JIlCT<.':lscd usc
of roLlnd:lboU[s in local road design has prowd to reduce
traffic accidents, as h:ls the installatioll of rnorc prominent
[f:lfTiC signals and :1 grea ter number of st rccdights.

[n Sllll1mary, the strides made in automotive safety in the

Uni ted States during the bst century and the carly yea rs

, of the current century h:lVt: significantly rcdllct'd deaths

from traffic accidcnts. .. Much progre~s in further
reducing fi~ks fell1:lins to be realized, howt'veL The
Much progress in
ch31lcnge for Glf manufacturers, traffic safety engineers.
funher reducing
ergonomists and It'gislaton is to work together to dl'velop
risks remains to
and implemcnt new improvl'ml'nts ti13t will help the U.S.
be realized,
brc;lk through the current plateau in thc number of traffi c
f;n;lliriL'S. C
Case Study
Development of Seat Belts
Volvo, a S~vcdish car manufacturer recognized by the
industry for its innovations III automotive safety, led the
way in the development of scat belts. l3ased on the wartime
experience of airplane pilots, Volvo installed seat belts ill
cars it manufactured in Sweden startin g in 1956, first jmt
as an accessory but soon as a required feature became the
evidence proved that seat belts saved lives. Car mJlluf.1Cttlrcrs
in the United Stares, impressed by the evidence, soon
followed Volvo :l11d offered seat belts as an option .
After seve r:!l decades during which physicians urged Gn
manufacturers to provide lap belts in new cars, the Colorado
St:lte Medical Society led the way in 1953 by publishing a
policy supporting installation of hp belts in all automobiles.
In 1954, tbe Sports Car Club of Ame r ica required compet-
ing drivers to wear lap belts, and the American Medical
Association H ouse of Delegates v()[ed to support tbeir
installation III all automobiles. In 1955. the California Vehicle
Code wa~ amended to reCluire state approval of scat belts
bc,fore their $alc or use, and the Society of Amol1l()[ive
Engineers (SA E) appointed a Motor Vehicle St'at 13elt
COlllmittee. In addition, the National Safety Council,
American College of Surgeons and the I!Hemational All cilrlyY-rypc s!'IIllJdl
Association of Chiefs of Police all voted to suppOrt dcsie u.
installation of scat belts III all autol11obiles.
[n 1956. Volvo introduced the two-point. cross-chest
diagonal belt as an accessory, while Ford began a two-year
campaign emph:l.sizing safety With :l. he:l.vy foclls on scat
beltS. Ford and Chrysler oITered hp belts in frOIH as an
option on some models. In 1957, thl' U.S. House of
Represent:ltivt's Spec ial Subcommittee on Traffic Safety
opened hearings on the effectiveness of scat belts in auto-
mobiles, wIllIe Volvo refined its belt by providing anchors
in front for their two-point diagonal bl'lts.
In 1958, Nils Bohlin of Volvo patented a three-point
safety belt. replacing the single lap belt that risked injury to
abdominal oq:,'':lIls in high-speed crashes. Volvo also provided
anchors for two-point diagonal belts in the rear. Bohlin,
who died in 2002, may have saved as many as one mi!Jion
lives with his invention. 13eforejoinillgVolvo in 1958.
llohllll designcd ejection scats and pilot reSC LlC systcms fo r
thl' Saab Airc raft Company. His three-point solution for
automobiles allowcd occupants to bucklc up with one h:md ,
ming one strap across the chest and anothcr across the lap,
with the buckle placed next to thc hip,
[n 19SY.Volvo introduced three-point belts in from as a
standard in Swede n . The New York $t;lte legislature co nsid-
ered, but rcjcw.'d , legislati on requiring seat belts, as it did
again the next year. [n [Y61, however, New York finally
enacted a law reqU Iring that scat belt anchors be placed in
the frolH ombO:lT(i seat positions, effective January I. 1962.
In the saine year, the $AE issued standards for U.S. scat
bellS and Wisconsin also required scat belt anchors.
In [962, Virginia Trailways became tht' first u.s. bus
company to install passenge r safcty belts. U.S. :ltltomobile
manllf:1ctllTC rS began to provide se:lt belt :lnc hors in the
front outboard poSItions as sC:lndard equipmell t, :llld the
ripple dfcct of U.S. st:ltes requirin g them began, with six
~ t ates enacting legislation. M eanwh il e, the Association for
Aid to C ri ppled Children and the COllSulllers Union SpOll-
sored :l landlll:lrk conference on "P:tsscnger C:tr Design :md
Highway S:lfcty" with OCCllp:l rlt protection the sole theme.
[n vehicles sold in the U.S. in [%3, Vo lvo introduced its
three- point belt ill front as st:lndard. As well, seve ral U.S. car
llla11tlf:lcttlrers began to prov ide b p belts in front ombo:lrc\
positiollS. Me:lmvhile, 23 stares 1I0W rcquired scat belts in
froill. Illost l'nacting dleir laws to becollle effective 011
Jallll:r.ry 1, 1964. R ecognizing this trend toward seat belts, the
U.S. Congress p:tssed a law to encourage the COllllllerce
Dep:lrUllent to issue mandatory stanci:trds for seat belts sold
ill illterst:ltl' COlIlllll'rce, which th e Dl'partlTlcllt :lccomplished
III [Y65. SOllie U.S. lII:tlllrf:lcturers beg:tll to provide :luto-
matic- locking retractors (A LR s) in frolH se:tt belts.
In 1966, the Sports C:lr Club of America req uired drivers in
competitions to weu a ~houlder h:lrness :l~ well as :l lap belt.
M e:tnwhile, in :In effort to im prove thc safety features of Sl':lt
belts, Swedish regulators prohibited two- point cro~s-c hest
di:tgonal sca t belts at seats Ilext to a door and the Y-typl:' of
tllree-poirrt belr :lltogether.
Laws requiring drivers and passl'llgcrs to wt.'ar sear belt.~, first
l:11:lcred in Victori:l. All~trali:l. in ]Y71, werl:' not l'nacted in
the United States until 1984, when New York becallle the
first state with a scat belt use law. As Susan P. Baker, M PH ,
professor and head of the Center for Injury R esearch and
Policy at JohllS HopkillS School of Pu blic H ealth . points
OUt, " R esistlllce to the use of st.'at belts endured for seve ral
deC:Hles. often based lipan slIch misconceptions as 'being

thrown d ear is better' (not reahzlIlg this could tlll':tll dear
to ete rnity) and fear of being tr3pped by fire (even though

being trlppcd by one's injUries was a flr grea ter risk). In
addition, as seat bel t laws were considered, isslles of person:tl
freedolll Inevitably emcred th e debate." Since 1984, however.
all states except New H:HlIpshire have passed such laws.
[n [987, New York State once again led the way in requiring CliCK IT
large school buses to itlstall two-poim seat belts, although
com pliance waS left to 111di vidual school districts. Si nce then,
- 08-
most new scat belt laws in state lcgislarures concern restraint
usc in school buses. In 1998 and 1999 . N H TSA conducted
a research projeCl to develop the next generation of occu- am' of sl'l'l'ml
pant protection systc ms for school buses. At preselH. most S('(1/bdl prollwli(1"
sc hool bus scats :J.rc p3dded to reduce forces lnd do lo.~"s p"/J/islu'd by
not have lap belts, whic h can contribute to head injuries if /111' N H TSA.
a lap bel t restr:tin$ thc pelvis while the head imp:J.cts the seat
in front .
Accord ing to a 2003 N HTSA survey, compliance in we:J.ring
selt belts has reached 79 percelH, thc highest level in the
ll:J.tion's history. In most st:J.tes the laws cover from-seat
occup:ll1ts only, bur the bws in 18 states also cover passen-
gers in rear seats. [n somc J urisdictiollS, however, occup:l.llts
in some vehicle c1assific:J.tions, usually pickups, arc exem pt
from the law. Of the 49 st:J. tes. only 21 allow law enforce-
ment officers to stop drivers for f.1ilun:: to compl y with the
mandatOry seat belt laws; this " prim:J.ry enforccment" h:J.s
been as~oci:J.tcd with greater sC:J.t belt usc. The other st:J.tes
req uire that officers first stOp :J. vchicle for another reason
before citing non co illpliance with the mandatory sC:J.t belt NHTSA-
law. H owever. :tll 50 states lnd the District of Colulllbi:J. have rrroIHIHl'ulil'd
(hild s(1fcl)' SC(/I.
c hild restraint laws. Th ese laws requi re that children travel ill
approved chi ld restrlint devict's, either ca r selts for yOllng
childrcn or booster seats or seat belts for o lder childre n. [f
scat belt usc continues :J.t 79 pe rcent or higher, it is cstilll:J.ted
that :J.t least 15.000 hves will be saved in each future year. C

Air Bags
Seat bdes by th emsel ves :IfC act ive restraint systems, meaning th at
motor vehicle o ccu pants must consc ioLlsly belt themselves in. fides
therefore can save lives o nl y when drivers and passengers lISC them.
Air bags, on the other hand, are passive restraint systems, requiring
no conscious decision on the part of a motor vehicle occupant.
Assuming universal implementation of effec tive passive restraint sys-
tems, air bags could save even more lives than active restraint syste ms.

The first patent on air bag restraint systems was issued to J ohn W.
Hetric K in 1952, covering designs for s:lfety cushions that would
intlate :lmom:ltica lly when a vehicle slld denly slowed. In 1964, Carl
C. C lark reported on his work at the Martin Company on ex peri-
ments that ve rified various ai r bag restraint designs and described
their advanrages and limitatio ns. Some of the ex perimen ts involved
him as the subject. Using pre-inflated designs, Clark's research was
the fir st to demonstrate the potential benefits of air bag restraints.

To actually inflate air bags prior to a crash

requires a sensing device. Allen K. 13reed
founded I3reed Corp. in 1961 and secured
a contra ct with t he U.s. military to develop
safety an d arm ing devices. Seven yea rs la ter,
in 1968, he and his brother David invented
an el ectromecha ni cal sensor (a moving
we ight triggering a switch after the acce l-
eration threshold is reac hed). The I3 reed
sensor was a simple design, with reproducible
results. and was widely lIsed as air bags began
AI/e/! K. Breed co be produced comme rci:lily.

Th e key to the success of air bags is a reliable crash se nsor so thar an

air bag will infl ate the instant a se rious crash occurs. Since rhe 1999
model year, th e federa l governm ent has required automobile manu-
f.1cturcrs to install driver and passenger air bags for frontal IIBpa Ct
protection in all cars, light trucks and vans.

It became apparent that air bags infbting instantly with g re.1t force
must vent some aIr co prevent trauma to t he head and upper corso.
Aside from rourine injuries ca used when air bags in fl ated with too
m uch fo rce - llsually minor .1brasiOllS to people's hands, arms and

faces - air bags caused fatal head injuries in young children. The force
of the air bag smashing eithe r dIrectly into young children or IIlCO
rear-f:1cing child safety seats, sometimes when vehicles collided at
relatively low speeds, caused these head injuries. The fear of air bags,
plus infoTIll3tiOil abolLt the importance of kecplllg children out of
the froTH seat, has led parents to banish ch ildre n to the rear seats of
cars, vans and SUVs, a step that has helped reduce the number of
child traffi c f:tt:tlities. Automobile manufacture rs also allow the
passenger-side air bag to be disabled for adults and children.

GM tested air bags all the 1973 model Chevrolet sold only for
gavemlllem usc. In 1975 and 1976, GM offered bu yers of ful\-sized
Oldslllobiles :md l3uicks driver-side air bags, and both driver and
passenger-side air bags to buyers of Cadillacs during those same years.
Today, dual front air bags are standard in all automobiles sold in the
United States. In addition, side air bags are options offered by many
manufacturers and are standard in many models. In second-generation
air bags, the force used to inflate th e air bag has been further reduct!d,
an important modification that helps cut down on the number of
injuries to the head and upper tOrso c:msed by air bags during motor
vt!hiclt! crashes. As of late 2003, NHTSA estimates that more than
\3,000 lives have been saved by air bags, mostly drivers but with a
signifi cant number of front-right passengers. a
Looking Ahead
A d van ces in Automobile
Manufac turing
The next fromier in automotive safety is saving bad drivers
from miStakes th:lt cO!Hribme to most crashes. ~ To
prevent drivers from making life-threatening mist;lkes. auto-
To prevent drivers mobile manufacture rs have begull to provide linked ~yste!lls
from making lifc- of safety features that tht'y arc either improving o r (h:signing
threate ning mis- from scr.Hch.
takes, automobile
manufacttl rers T he anti-lock brake ~ystell1 is the foundation of these linh-d
have begun to safety systcms. Anti-lock brakes, controlled by a computer,
provide linked pump themselves automatic:llly to avoid locking the wheels
systems of safety :lnd sending the vchicle into a skid. This same b:lsic hardware
features .... also applies braking force when sensors detect a vehick' skid-
ding sidcw;IYs or roc king violently side to side. When the)' do
so. the anti-lock brakes become an electronic stability control
Since every vehicle has a mechanical suspension 'ystelll.
with ~hock absorbers and (p refer:lbly) st:lbi lizer b:lrs that :lfe
designed to control the vehIcle's side-to-side motion, engI-
neers can make these stlspensions smarter using electronics
:111d software. For inst:111ce, one manufacturer Ius devised :I
system oiled Active St:lbilizer lhr in which the electronics
push b:lck against till' forces th at cause the vehicle to sway
from sick to side and go out of control in a violent tl1rn.
Another system tlSes shock absorbers filled with a magm·tic
fluid . Sensors read the road and send an electric current
through the magnetic fluid. and depending on conditions,
the shock absorbers will get either stiffer or softer to h'ep
the car level even on rougb roads.
T hese advances in safety systems. employing software ami
dectronic control technology_ could mean that showrooms
wi ll soon featme ca rs that weave a safety net around drivers.
Tile safety net will integrate skid controls, stability sensors,
steering. brakes and the throttle in :l system that rectifies
driver error :wtolll:ltic:llly the inst:lnt it occurs. The ch:lllenge
for automotive technology mal1l1f,1ctu rers is to persu:lde
car manufacturers to spend the cxtra money to Illake their
:ldvances morc widely available and bring automOtive safe ty
to the ncxt level. The cll:lllenge for C:lr 111:l1ll1facttl rers is
to persuade car buyers that these technologies arc worth
paying for.

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[n late September 2004. NHTSA released a preliminary

study that showed SUVs cquipped w rth stability-control
systems had 63 percent fewer fatal crashes. Cars equipped
with stability comrols had 30 pt:rcel1t fewer f:lta l c rashes.
H owever. the sa mple size was small - only 7.4 percent of
light vehicles sold in 2003 had some kind of electronic
stability COntrol. Meanwhile, as pickups and SUVs w ith high
cen te rs of gravity grow increasingly popular with consullle rs,
the problem of rollovers persists . Rollovers represent two
percent of all crashes, but 33 percent of f.1tal c rashes. Swdics
show that an SUV that skids into a curb at speeds as low
... Im SUV rllllt skids
as nine to 13 Ill iles pe r hOllr is at high risk of flipping over.
illto a (IIrh lit lIilll' to
Cars will also flip over if they tr ip on a curb. but not until
/J mill'S per hOllr i.1 at
they anall1 speeds of 1 1- 18 miles per hour. If electronic
11I:'.!h risk ,{{1ippill.'.!
stability co ntrol (ESC) is to catch hold, the makt:rs must OIl/'(.
advertise the beneflrs of their systems and stage demonstra-
tions fo r the automotive press who, in turn, would spread
word to consumers.
The challenge for alltornotive safC"ty in the 2 ! st cen tury is
to sustain and improve manufacturing and highway safety
innovations. The rolc of public health in future succC"sses, as
measured by decreasing [T:lffic fatalities :l1ld injuri(.·s. will
come through the following approaches:
• Continlle efforts to reduce alcohol-impaIred driving and
related f.1talities and injuries.

" ..... <'C' . " " ,: "."" ." . J

• Prolllote strategies slIch as graduat,;.'d liceHsing that
discour:lge teenage drinking and speeding.
• Ellh:mct' pedestrian safety, l'specially for chi ldren and
rlll" elderly. through engineering solmiollS that reduce
exposure to tr:lffi c and permit c rossing str<.!<.!ts safely :llld
by encour.lging: saf<.!r pedestrian behavion.
• Accomlllodate the mobility needs ofperson~ :lged 65
ye:lrs :md older - :l population estimated to doubk to 65
million by 2030 - through a cOlllbin:ltion of :lltefll:ltive
1II0des of transport.
fj/",m,l1/,fol! &/10"/ oj • Encourage routine scat belt lise by driven and p:lsscngers.
flublif Hcalth,John s
1/"l'kins UI/illersi!)" • Encourage proper tlSC of child safety scars.
• Condu ct biomechanics r<.!~e:lrch to b<.!tter lllldcrst:lI1d the
C:luses of nonfatal dis:lbli ng injurlL'~, p:lrticubrly brain

and spin:l l cord injuries.
,.. Uy f.1r the greatest c h:lllt::nge fOl" public hC:l lth is cx t<.!nd-
illg to developing coutltries the knowledge :lnd technology
By f.1r the that have ell:lbled the United Stat<.!s to bert<.!r protect its ro:ld
greatest challenge use rs. This will r<.!quire sUl"moulHing economic and ndturJ.1
for public health barriers. Susan l3aker of Johns H opkins School of Publi c
is exten ding H e:llth says. " Advances in automotive s:lfety in this country
to developing ca n poim rhe W:ly to illlproved s:lfety in tilt" developi ng
countries the world. Hopefully, those countries and th~t V:lst popubtion
knowledge and will not h:lVC to learn from hard experience. as we did. that
technology that government regubtions, wi sely il\1plenlt~ l1ted, arc the best
h~ve t::1l~bled the
way to protect public he:llth." D
United St~tes to
better protect its
road lIsers.
Ph olo c redils
1'.lgc 21: Fm.1 gJl cJr. O HII'rrll<" Im~~~Work-.
I'J gc 11: Enl)' en aai(kllt. " H"lwu- lkul'ch ColkclI,,"/(:(m.1l1~.
1'.lg'· 12: llr.JctTrc y R""gc. ,ourlc'\" www.llu,klcUpAmcrlca."'g.
Pag,· 2.3: lI'c:\lh lI13I)·zc·r. (OU'I,·,\" US NJval Saft'l\" Cc·mcr.
I'.tlle H:Tcc"~ drn,k"'ll ""d d';""'g. 0 Roy MorSt"h/CORUIS.
I'Jg" 25: eu ""''''''!! ",<I hlll". III,,,,,,,,n' 1"'IUIl(C
filr I-bghway S.f,·(y.
I'Jg'· 2(" Auto a~sh I'·SI . .::> AMS ~nd rI"I<' .11"1,,, will S,,,"I.
1'.lg" 211: WOO""'' .,](Is,·ol bdl. j""\ Ikl!lnJnIl /COllm~.
I'.tll'· 211: Nils Bohlin. ~' Voko Car Co'po,:",,,,,.
Pallc' 30: Click- II or TICkel. c,,"ncIY www.lluckkUpAulC"ro<"J.oTg.
I'age 30:Th'''c-I'''"H 5c·.1I hell. C www.autoli".~o",.
I'Jgc 31: Allt-n K. Brc·,·d. 0 21M):; I lib, y M,tchell.
I'.tllc 3-1:VJ)IM. o To)"o!' MOlor S,lc·l. USA.
1'.l!",' 3-1: SUV ronowr. Kenh Elh, / F,,'" Photoll"'phc·r. www.W:.V FIl ...Il.