Hindsight’s Still 20-20: The Toyota Quality Report

We here at the Safety Record Blog are getting caught up on our blogging after a hectic  before-the-holiday-weekend week attending Edmund.com’s Let’s Blame it on the Drivers conference and releasing our response to the NHTSA and NESC report on Toyota. If you haven’t had a chance to read this special edition of The Safety Record, you can catch it here.

And son of a gun if Toyota didn’t release its long awaited quality report on the same day! (A little awkward, we know.) This panel of Very Serious People outside of the company was charged with the task of evaluating just what went wrong:

“The Charter directs the Panel to conduct a thorough and independent review of the soundness of these processes and provide its assessment to Toyota’s senior management.”

IIHS Asks NHTSA for Stronger Underride Rule

This month, the Insurance Institute on Highway Safety reignited efforts to address the underride problem and petitioned the federal government to “require stronger underride guards that will remain in place during a crash and to mandate guards for more large trucks and trailers.”

The Institute based its latest effort on a study using the Large Truck Crash Causation Study, a federal database of roughly 1,000 real-world crashes in 2001-03.  The organization examined crash patterns leading to rear underride of heavy trucks and semi-trailers with and without guards and found that underride was a common outcome of the 115 crashes involving a passenger vehicle striking the back of a heavy truck or semi-trailer. Only 22 percent of the crashes didn’t involve underride or had only negligible underride, which they indicated was consistent with prior studies.  The study noted that “In 23 of the 28 cases in which someone in the passenger vehicle died, there was severe or catastrophic underride damage, meaning the entire front end or more of the vehicle slid beneath the truck.”

The New De Facto Roof Strength Standard? IIHS Raises the Bar

Reprinted from The Safety Record, V6, I1

WASHINGTON, D.C. - As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's effort to write a new roof strength standard drags into its fourth year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has gone ahead and created one that is far more stringent than anything the agency has proposed.

Beginning in 2010, automakers who want IIHS's coveted Top Safety Pick designation will have to build vehicle roofs with a 4.0 strength-to-weight ratio - far above the timid 2.5 ratio the government has been contemplating for its amended standard. The IIHS estimated that vehicles that could meet this new strength standard could reduce injury risk to occupants by 40-50 percent. In January, the insurance advocacy group informed manufacturers about its new requirement for vehicle roofs to win its highest honor. The industry greeted the news with the "can't-do" spirit that characterizes its reaction to nearly every safety improvement.