Lou Lombardo has written a thought-provoking opinion piece, Creating a Demand for Crash Testing (CTTI, September 2011). It holds great value in confirming the need for comprehensive underride protection legislation to be introduced and passed in a timely manner.
“From Sweden, Germany, Japan and Korea, to Australia and the USA, there are excellent safety engineers and scientists the world over in both the private and public sectors. But, as safety legend Ralph Nader has pointed out, these people have more problems than they deserve, and more solutions than are deployed.
“The basic problem is that safety engineers in auto companies and suppliers have to convince their managements to fund safety RDTE & D (research, development, testing, evaluation, and deployment). Managements are reluctant to allocate capital unless they can see a return on investment, have to meet legal (governmental and/or liability) requirements, or face competitive imperatives (pressures or opportunities). Information, as published in magazines such as this, can increase the motivation of managements to allocate resources for crash testing — especially when there is public demand for safety.
“Demand for safety can be stimulated. How? By people, organizations, and events, both planned and unplanned. . . Think Lee Iacocca’s marketing initiative of using images of a dramatic head-on crash of two airbag-equipped Chrysler cares in which motorists walked away, saved by airbags. . .
“First, start with very important goals. . .
“Secondly, we must create lead measures of progress toward meeting these goals. . .
“The third measure is to create a safety-stimulating scoreboard that shows how corporate auto makers rank at protecting their customers and other motorists; how well insurers stimulate safety; and how well Federal and State governments improve the performance of preventing and treating needless deaths and treating people injured in crashes. Can we do this? Yes we can! . . .
“All motorists prefer more crash testing in laboratories to the millions of crash tests occurring in the real world each year.”
This is very relevant to the state of underride protection in our country. In fact, it reminds me of a comment made to me recently by someone in the trucking industry. Among other things, he said that “legislation takes the burden off of the manufacturers.”
In other words, when the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act is passed, then the truck and trailer manufacturers will no longer have to work to convince their customers that it is to their advantage to have effective underride protection installed. It will just be the way it is — comprehensive underride protection on every single truck on the road. The new normal.
And, thankfully, it will no longer be inevitable that a truck crash will result in an underride tragedy. Imagine.
Someday, people might even forget that truck underride used to happen hundreds of times a year. It will be a piece of our past. And that is just fine with me.