February 10, 2005

Safety Takes A Back Seat To Appearance

Governments in Europe and Japan are looking at ways to make cars less dangerous for pedestrians, so walkers hit by vehicles are more likely to survive.

In the U.S., though, automakers are resisting such regulations, arguing that "such changes add cost and alter vehicle appearance in ways consumers might not like -- rounding off hoods and shortening front ends to lessen the danger to the human body," according to the Washington Post (thanks to Timothy Lee for this link as well).

Yes, a sleeker look is apparently worth killing more people.

Outraged? Sadly, in a society where so many people lust after SUVs -- not caring how dangerous those oversized vehicles are to both pedestrians and conventional passenger cars -- it's no wonder that we end up in a place where manufacturers think it's more important for their products to look good than save lives. About 5,000 pedestrians die each year in America after being hit by motorized vehicles.


  1. I'm not sure if "outraged" is the word I'm looking for...
    I'd like to question why the US isn't using the argument of
    more "pedestrian friendly" streets/crossings as the reason to
    leave car design out of this issue. Personally, I think we
    should focus on making streets safer before we consider the
    body design of the cars that could hit us. And how can they be
    so sure that this new design will be better for people of all
    sizes? Kids? What about cyclists? The root of the problem is
    unsafe street crossings, so that must be fixed before the car
    design. Especially since there will still be plenty of the
    "unsafe" vehicle designs out there, what happens when those run
    us over? Changing the pedestrian environment (not the car)is
    a better solution to the problem of pedestrian safety.

  2. I think we need to do both. Safer crossings and intersections are extremely important, but vehicle design is an issue as well. As I posted in June, "Pedestrians hit by SUVs or light trucks are 3.7 times more likely to be killed, and have a three times higher risk of severe injuries, than those hit by passenger cars, according to a study in the June issue of Injury Prevention."