ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Auto Industry Initiative Looks to Voluntary Standards for SUV Safety

New York, Dec 08, 2003

A recent initiative by leading automakers affirms a new voluntary industry safety commitment to adopt standards designed to enhance occupant protection in collisions involving sport utility vehicles (SUVs). As the popularity of SUVs has risen, concern over how other vehicles stand up in crashes with them has grown. Studies indicate that car occupants are more likely to die in crashes with SUVs and light trucks because bumpers on these vehicles are typically much higher.

The new safety performance criteria will employ a variety of occupant protection technologies and design features, including vehicle front structural components and enhanced side-impact protection. The plan calls for half of the vehicles offered in the United States to meet front-to-side crash requirements by September 2007. Automakers also could make changes to SUVs so there is a lesser height difference in collisions with cars. The automakers plan full compliance with the voluntary standards by September 2009.

The plan is third in a series of voluntary industry commitments developed by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, an advocacy group for the automobile industry on a range of public policy issues. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a safety research group financed by auto insurers, joined the Alliance in announcing the standards and asserted it would be watching closely to see how well the automakers meet their new commitments.

"If we see evidence of manufacturers somehow looking to escape from some of these commitments or use loopholes, we'll be the first to publicly complain because our credibility is on the line here," said Brian O'Neill, president of the IIHS.

The Alliance claims the action is made to enhance the safety of vehicles and to avoid regulation. However, some consumer advocacy groups argue that federal standards would require that all vehicles sold in the United States be certified by those requirements, and would allow public participation in their development.

Formed in 1999, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is a trade association of 9 car and light truck manufacturers including ANSI members DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Company, and General Motors, along with BMW Group, Mazda, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.