Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
United States EU Transportation

Car Industry "Buried Report Showing US Car Safety Flaws Over Fears For TTIP Deal" 181

schwit1 writes: The American auto industry has been accused of withholding a report that showed U.S. cars are substantially less safe than their European counterparts. It is alleged that releasing the study would hamper the drive to harmonize safety standards as part of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal. The research was commissioned by the car industry to show that EU and US safety standards were similar, but the research actually showed that American models are much less safe when it comes to front-side collisions. András Bálint, Traffic Safety Analyst at Chalmers, told the Independent: “The results of our study indicate that there is currently a risk difference with respect to the risk of injury given a crash between EU specification cars and US models. Therefore, based on these results, immediate recognition of US vehicles in the EU could potentially result in a greater number of fatalities or serious injuries in road traffic. The potential impact is difficult to quantify because it depends on a number of other parameters.”
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Car Industry "Buried Report Showing US Car Safety Flaws Over Fears For TTIP Deal"

Comments Filter:
  • Given that Volkswagen has already shown their willingness to tinker with the design of their cars in order to fake out car testing results, one wonders how big the gap really is.
    • Re:Hmmmm (Score:5, Informative)

      by TWX ( 665546 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @02:27PM (#50599467)
      I wouldn't worry at all. IIHS procedures are very cut and dry. They do 40% overlap and 20% overlap tests. The 20% had results all over the damn place from cars form all makers. If I remember right, Toyota fared the worst in that crash mode.

      I actually like the IIHS. Their goal is to reduce the costs of insurance payments. That means they look at both the low-speed and the high-speed modes, low speed to minimize crash damage, and the high-speed to minimize passenger injuries. They're not beholden to the automakers and they're not government, so they can develop new tests whenever they want and the results of those tests push manufacturers to make their cars safer to try to avoid bad press.

      It's one of the few instances where the private sector 'regulation' works better than public sector.
  • Well, that was quick (Score:5, Interesting)

    by muecksteiner ( 102093 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @02:07PM (#50599229)

    Retaliation for the whole emissions standard thing.

    Not that either is ok: neither should VW have cheated, nor the U.S. automakers ever have been so lax w/r to crash safety.

    • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @02:19PM (#50599379) Homepage

      Hey, the US car makers bought de-regulation fair and square, and politicians keep telling us de-regulation leads to better products.

      Why do you hate freedom?

      If car makers had to adhere to real regulations that would be like communism.

      The market will resolve this, right? People will choose the safer cars?

      Oh, that's right .. they don't want us to know which are the safer cars. Why have a free market when you can simply suppress the information?

      • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @02:23PM (#50599415)

        The market will resolve this, right? People will choose the safer cars?

        Most drivers don't much care about safety, because they don't expect to be in a crash where it makes a difference... and most of those won't be. That doesn't mean they'll buy a car with a spke sticking out of the steering wheel, but cars became 'safe enough' long ago.

        • Not sure how true this is, but I've heard In the 50's and 60's, cars had those biiig steering wheels on a center spoke, and in the days where 'seat belt' meant 'lap belt', in a front end collision, that's exactly what would happen; the driver could easily be impaled on that center spoke, even in a low speed crash.

          (my only frame of reference here was a 1966 merc comet that I drove in highschool, and that steering wheel seemed like a death trap.)

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            >The driver could easily be impaled on that center spoke

            Either that or the protruding knobs on the radio and HVAC would pierce your skull. Or the non-safety glass slice you into about 5 X 10^3 pieces. Or the (Hot! Heavy! Sharp!) 351 cubic inch V-8 engine block crashed through the firewall and landed in your lap. Or the bench seat came loose from the floor and crushed you against the dashboard/windshield.

            I kid you not; that kind lethal ornamentation, underdesigned fastening, or bad glass got designed OUT

            • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

              Either that or the protruding knobs on the radio and HVAC would pierce your skull.

              Ah, yes. That was back in the days when the Jensen FF, the first road car with AWD and ABS, couldn't be sold in America because the US government didn't like the shape of the dashboard switches...

          • I've seen an accident where that's exactly what happened. Not pretty.

            The cops and EMTs told me that the driver hadn't even been going that fast, and if he'd been wearing a proper seatbelt, he likely would have simply walked away.

    • by sosume ( 680416 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @02:19PM (#50599387) Journal

      The VW cheating resulted in two positive outcomes for the public. First, buyers have to pay far less environmental tax. Second, since the engine runs much more efficient in normal mode, resulting in lower diesel consumption. So they did most of their customers a favor while pissing off the authorities.
      I'd say having a bad crash safety record is a lot worse than that.

    • by njnnja ( 2833511 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @02:35PM (#50599539)

      I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that US automakers are so much more dangerous than European cars. In public crash testing by say IIHS and NHTSA, there are differences but nothing to be alarmed about. But in any particular study, if you run 20 tests, you are bound to find something alarming at the 5% level of statistical significance.

    • Based on the summary (I haven't read TFA), it's probably a consequences of NHTSA only testing direct frontal collisions - where two cars hit each other exactly head on. The insurance companies in the U.S. saw the folly of that decades ago, and run their own tests which include an offset frontal collision - where two cars hit each other head on but only the two drivers' sides (or passengers' sides) making contact.
    • Retaliation for the whole emissions standard thing.

      Not that either is ok: neither should VW have cheated, nor the U.S. automakers ever have been so lax w/r to crash safety.

      more likely the VW emissions thing was a pre-emptive strike designed to bury this news - and it mostly worked. There are rumours that various govts knew about the emissions test issues for years...

      Either way politics and TTIP are behind it all

  • I read the article and I'm a little confused. The article sounds like the US cars met the US based-standards, but not the EU ones. In an effort to bring the US standards in line with the EU ones, a test was done to see if the current US models would pass the EU test, but they weren't able. Not only that, but that the US-produced models that are supposed to meet EU regulations weren't able as well, with US based models 33% more likely to be harmful to the passengers in a front-end collision. However, I a

    • However, I assume that these vehicles still passed both EU and US regulations, right? Otherwise they wouldn't be allowed on EU roads?

      My guess is that US models currently aren't allowed on EU roads (because they don't pass EU tests), but under TTIP Europe would be forced to allow them to be sold based on their passing of only the "lowest common denominator" of tests.

      • The article has this to say:

        "under current rules cars sold globally, such as the Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf, must still be re-engineered multiple times - at considerable expense to manufacturers - to satisfy crash-test standards around the world."

        I don't think current model of the Focus sold in Europe is fundamentally different than the one sold in the U.S. (?)

        • The problem with US cars is side-impact protection. It would not require a fundamental change to the design to have different doors fitted to US and EU models, with the EU model doors having more protection.
      • Re:Details (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bremen24601 ( 235943 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @02:34PM (#50599525)

        It would cut both ways, as European cars probably don't meet US standards either.

        The problem is safety is not a single variable. Improving one measure of safety might decrease another. EU and US regulators simply have different concerns about what is safe. EU regulators are concerned about pedestrian collisions, but making a car safer for pedestrians might make for worse accidents when you run into a Hummer.

        There are other factors too, like US regulators test for what happens when people don't wear seatbelts, in the EU they just assume people do (because oddly Europeans actually use the things).

    • Re:Details (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @02:27PM (#50599463) Homepage

      Go with the cynical view: the goal is to make the weaker US standards appear compliant with/equal to the stronger EU standards so the US makers could sell to Europe under a negotiated treaty.

      Short version, "we're already risking American lives by having less safety, so why not risk EU lives and pretend the safety standards are the same".

      This way instead of building one set to Euro-spec, and one to US-spec, you get the US-spec certified as "close enough". In the process you undermine the Euro-spec.

      It's using a treaty to make an end-run around regulations, which is what most of these damned treaties seem to be doing lately.

      • by PRMan ( 959735 )
        Building one vehicle worldwide would be a huge cost savings to the automakers. They should negotiate and reach a compromise. Oh, wait, that's probably what they are doing right now.
        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
          Nope. GM and Ford still want unique rules for the US. They believe it reduces competition. The makers are actively trying to drive up costs (As they've already sunk theirs). Capitalism at its finest.
    • by jeremyp ( 130771 )

      Come to Europe and look at the cars. You will see very few American cars and the ones that you do see will generally be niche models. Now it could be that most US cars are unable to pass European safety standards or it could be that the perception in Europe is that American cars are crap badly made gas guzzling turds that won't go round corners.

  • My understanding is that the European safety standards also cover things like the car hitting a pedestrian [euroncap.com] -- do the American standards care about anything other than the occupants of the vehicles?

    I guess the new requirements for backup cameras sort of cover pedestrian safety to some degree, but I suspect that the need for it has come from the shrinking of car windows to improve the vehicle crash performance.

    • Cars in both places are very safe in general. There is always room for improvement, but if you meet the requirements, and don't make inaccurate claims, then what is the problem? This just looks like an attempt to capitalize on the current VW drama.
      • I agree that US cars are safe. I just think the safety laws in the USA aren't right. We have big time safety laws on cars which raise the price of the car thousands of dollars, but no real safety rules on motorcylists. It is the law to wear a seatbelt in a car, but a motocyclist doesn't have to wear a helmet. Part of me thinks this is just because we don't want cheap foreign cars competing with expensive brands.

        I think safety is great and worth a premium. Maybe if we let cheap foreign cars in, peop
        • by Major Blud ( 789630 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @02:27PM (#50599465) Homepage

          "but a motocyclist doesn't have to wear a helmet."

          This is somewhat misleading. Almost every state in the U.S. has some type of motorcycle helmet law:
          http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topic... [iihs.org]

          For the states with "partial" laws, this is usually the requirement that the rider maintain a $10,000 insurance policy, as well as an age requirement.

          • The 10,000 injury nonsense is nothing more than corruption whether it is in regard to a motorcycle or a car passenger or driver. A biker with a head injury will go through that $10,000 in the emergency room in less than 15 minutes. That will leave him out of luck on medical bills and loss of income for the rest of his life. In some states it is next to impossible to go beyond the limit of the other driver's policy no matter how dire the injury. On top of that there are places like Miami,Fl. where 4
          • The state I'm in allows people of a certain age to not wear a helmet. I wasn't aware the other states did it much differently. We have a law here, but it is only for younger and inexperienced riders.
          • "but a motocyclist doesn't have to wear a helmet."

            This is somewhat misleading. Almost every state in the U.S. has some type of motorcycle helmet law:
            http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topic... [iihs.org]

            For the states with "partial" laws, this is usually the requirement that the rider maintain a $10,000 insurance policy, as well as an age requirement.

            The helmets I've seen people riding around with, on motorbikes, here in Canada are typically pathetic and wouldn't protect your head any better than a baseball cap. Just padded beanies.

            You rarely see people wearing a helmet that would be legal in Europe or, for that matter, riding a motorbike thats better than a toy.

          • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
            In most states, a properly insured adult motorcyclist is not required to wear a helmet. I find your correction to be irrelevant.
        • We have big time safety laws on cars which raise the price of the car thousands of dollars, but no real safety rules on motorcylists. It is the law to wear a seatbelt in a car, but a motocyclist doesn't have to wear a helmet. Part of me thinks this is just because we don't want cheap foreign cars competing with expensive brands.

          What cheap foreign cars? Chinese cars? Tatas from India? Most foreign cars are more expensive than American cars; American cars are the cheap, crappy ones these days, and have be

        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
          A seat belt is proven to improve safety. The same can't be said for helmets. I've driven an '67 VW. I was going to a soccer game, and thus, had on soccer shorts. They are shiny and baggy. The vinyl seats on the car are slippery. I managed to take a left turn at a normal speed, but the grip between my seat and the seat were less than normal. I ended up steering while facing backwards, sitting in the passenger footwell.. A seat belt would have helped. Seatbelts were required, but the grandfather law f
      • by TWX ( 665546 )

        Cars in both places are very safe in general. There is always room for improvement, but if you meet the requirements, and don't make inaccurate claims, then what is the problem? This just looks like an attempt to capitalize on the current VW drama.

        Probably. "Hey look, a duck!" seems to be a common reaction when something bad is brought up.

        I expect it would be much harder to fake crash test results than to fake emissions results. Even if one could detect that a car was being crash-tested instead of being in a real-world crash, there would be no performance advantage to not performing just as well in real crashes as in tests. Besides, many testing entities procure cars through regular retail channels so that manufacturers can't tweak a particular

    • I thought the same thing, but in TFA:

      Of particular concern to safety groups is the finding that passengers in a typical EU model are 33 per cent safer in front-side collisions, an accident that often results in serious injury, than those in a typical US model.

      I suspect there is a bias towards driver safety in the US standards, since cars tend to have a single occupant.

      • by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @02:32PM (#50599507) Homepage Journal

        I thought the same thing, but in TFA:

        Of particular concern to safety groups is the finding that passengers in a typical EU model are 33 per cent safer in front-side collisions, an accident that often results in serious injury, than those in a typical US model.

        I suspect there is a bias towards driver safety in the US standards, since cars tend to have a single occupant.

        This is part of the problem with the TTIP and other 'negotiated in secret' trade agreements. Populations in different cultures and populations have different priories for them, so a government is penalised for trying to be stricter on companies, than in another geography, there is a problem. The TTIP just encourages the lowest common dimonator to rule the board, since that is going to make it easier on corporations, rather than protecting the interests of citizens in a given location.

        The only winners for TTIP and the sister trade agreements are US centric multinationals, at least from what I have read.

        • This is true - it's a reversion from representative democracy. If we insist on globalizing trade, the institutions should resemble those of a parliament or congress. The members can be directly elected or not, depending on the member countries' preferences. I think the move to knocking down the dubious notion of the "state" is probably a good one, but not it if means replacing it with corporate-backed committees.

      • No. Front-side collisions generally happen on the driver's side.

    • The thick A columns in recent cars are quite the hazard. I find it very easy to not see a pedestrian coming towards me when I am turning left. Blind spots are growing as well due to the tiny windows, and so on. It certainly does start to feel like we are playing an odd game of increasing the number of crashes to get better crash survival.

      • Blind spots are growing as well due to the tiny windows, and so on.

        That's why you get a car with blind-spot monitors (radar systems in the back bumper which alert you when someone's in your blind spot).

        That doesn't help with the A-pillars though. But you can still get around that by moving your head so you can see around the pillar. When you're turning left, this is something you should be able to do, since the car isn't moving. By contrast, vehicles in your blind spot is a problem when you're moving, us

    • I guess the new requirements for backup cameras sort of cover pedestrian safety to some degree, but I suspect that the need for it has come from the shrinking of car windows to improve the vehicle crash performance.

      There's some truth to that, but only some. There's *never* been a car where you could see if there was a small child or dog or whatever right behind your rear bumper, while seated in the driver's seat. That's what these cameras are really for: they have fisheye lenses and let you see absolutely

    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      Yes. Flip headlights were effectively made illegal in the US in about 2000 because of pedestrian safety standards.
  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Friday September 25, 2015 @02:13PM (#50599313)

    The Volkswagen computers are only safe in testing mode.

    • by gnupun ( 752725 )

      What's worse, bad frontal crash safety or 4x more NOx fumes? I think it is the former (crash safety). So when are we going to see an $18 billion fine for the unsafe cars?

      • by njnnja ( 2833511 )

        I think a reasonable possibility is that if they cheat on one test, they might be cheating on other tests. Maybe American carmakers just aren't as good at gaming the test.

        • I think a reasonable possibility is that if they cheat on one test, they might be cheating on other tests. Maybe American carmakers just aren't as good at gaming the test.

          Admittedly, its a lot harder to reprogram your car to fare better when smashed into a wall during a test than it will in real life.

          • by njnnja ( 2833511 )

            It's obviously not a programming issue but if the test always hits at,say, exactly 4 inches off center then I could imagine a company designing a car to do very well when hit at exactly 4 inches off center even at the expense of say a 3 inch off center collision. IIRC, the Swedish automakers used to do a ton of "real world" crash testing and were generally considered to be the safest cars on the road even if they didn't score as high on standardized tests as other automakers. That would seem to imply that o

      • it seems like you are just generally confused.

      • by jeremyp ( 130771 )

        When a car manufacturer finds a way to cheat on the safety tests.

      • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
        But there are no unsafe cars referenced in this article. The summary wouldn't have gotten any hits if they said "Crash tests incompatible across markets, EU cars tested in US fare worse than in EU tests. US cars tested in EU tests fare worse than in US tests."

        That's common sense. But the media inflates everything to drive hits, views, and thus revenue.
  • So now are we going to see a trade war, where each side tries to make the other side look worse?
    Trade wars generally don't end well.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Good riddance.

  • You know all those European and Asian cars that we can't get here because they're "not as safe as American cars"? Well, we can't get them because they're safer than American cars.
    • Huh? Citation needed.

      Usually, if there's some foreign car you can't get here in the US, it's because the manufacturer doesn't want to pay all the money needed to put it through US government crash tests. This usually happens with very expensive, low-volume cars, like the famous Porsche 959 that Bill Gates tried importing and couldn't get licensed to drive on American roads, so it sat in storage for decades. When the carmaker only makes a handful of that kind of car, they're not going to build 5 extra ju

  • So a report showed that US spec cars don't do well under a different testing regimen. OK, fine. That's data, and likely highly repeatable since I assume that there are likely a series of standard procedures and testing regimens that are used to set the standards. Ostensibly, these map to real-world scenarios like frontal collision, side collision, rear ending, etc. The automakers design appropriately to these standards. So If the testing regimen for the US is different, you will get different (likely poor)

  • > It is alleged that releasing the study would hamper the drive to
    > harmonize safety standards as part of the Transatlantic Trade
    > and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal.

    It is a moot point, since we will not allow TTIP to happen, and will not respect it if it does happen, and will sabotage it with everything we have, at every point, if it is forced down our throats:

    http://www.newsletter-webversi... [newsletter-webversion.de]

  • Make US regs match EU regs, along with an agreement to change regulations together in unison. The problem with the US has always been that our regulations were far behind, incompatible with others, and enshrined strange requirements (literally over a century of cruft). The list is immense: Headlights (sealed beam lights were required for decades after the industry moved on in every other country), the corner reflectors we still have that nobody else requires (you probably don't realize they are there, but

Feel disillusioned? I've got some great new illusions, right here!

Working...