Text: Tyrone Limon / Photos: courtesy of Euro NCAP | posted August 31, 2008 11:28
Organizations that make roads safer
Prior to the invention and eventual mass production of the motor engine, animals were commonly used in transporting people and their goods. They were either directly loaded on the animal?s back or a carriage was utilized and pulled. Although land transportation at that time was still relatively simple, people back then already adhered to informal regulations. With the advent of the automobile, safety immediately became a foremost concern.
However, initial efforts were evidently not enough as many deaths, injury and damage were recorded. With cars becoming increasingly popular, government and private groups alike have become more involved and enacted laws in order to make cars and its usage safer. This paved the way for the birth of car safety organizations in various countries around the world, such as the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (US NHTSA), European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP), the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), to name a few. These are just some of the groups which coordinate worldwide in trying to make cars safer. They gather information and subsequently inform the public of the latest breakthroughs from their tests.
Though they may slightly differ in mandate, jurisdiction and approach, they do share a common cause: to make cars safer, not only for the individuals using these per se; but to the other people and structures along the streets too. These include pedestrians, other motorists and fixed properties. Their studies are mostly research-based, done over varying periods of time, which aim to help consumers decide which models are safer. They are not limited exclusively to crash-testing. Inevitably, these groups also become basis for the manufacturers to improve their products. While the manufacturers can directly survey the public themselves, they also gather more data from this feedback procedure. They can then do comparative analysis, as against other products, or with their own previous products as well. The manufacturers and their suppliers alike, coordinate with them in acquiring facts and statistics about their models, which are very valuable for them in maintaining customer satisfaction through quality products and improved models.
United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The US NHTSA was mandated by the United States Congress in order to help prevent crashes by fully supervising car-related accidents. They are responsible for drawing out industry standards and boosting the awareness for safety practices. Moreover, the agency plays a big role in the enforcement of laws.
They can issue vehicle recalls, when deemed necessary, when defects are discovered. These must be supported by ample consumer information, such as accident frequency and a part being substandard. Massive complaints may also be a basis for a recall, but these have to be objective and properly substantiated. If indeed there?s a proven defect, the manufacturer is mandated by law to correct this either through repair or part change altogether. They also set fuel consumption norms. For pre-owned vehicles, they also check the accuracy of the gauges, most especially the odometer. This is to protect would-be buyers from unscrupulous individuals, who tamper with the data on these vehicles, just to make more money.
European New Car Assessment Programme
The Euro NCAP?s objective is to give valuable information as regards the vehicles. They subject all vehicles to a battery of tests in order to fully assess the performance of the vehicle, under different conditions. Many people seriously consider their reviews, so much so that vehicle manufacturers also consider their views and opinions in improving the design and features of their products.
Australian Automobile Association
The Australian Automobile Association or AAA as it is more commonly referred to, provides the public sought-after data about safety and issues regarding the motoring world. It also spearheads efforts in the information dissemination.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The IIHS is an example of a privately-run group aiming to drastically lessen accidents. It funded its own equipment in testing cars, in order to collect practical data. It also looks into other factors of various in vehicles such as theft, bodily injury, property damage and collision. From the gathering, collection, up to when the data are analyzed and conclusions drawn, the institute hopes to minimize, if not totally eliminate, severe injuries and destruction. The institute is continuously updating these data, substituting different variables, in their tests. This way, they can effectively simulate actual road conditions and be as accurate and precise as possible. Among their functions is to compare these results with actual accidents and road mishaps.
Land Transportation Office (Philippines)
Locally, the Land Transportation Office or LTO, in direct coordination with the Department of Transportation and Communication, also takes the lead in government efforts in ensuring the over-all safety of automobiles.
While these are the lead agencies, other government groups such as the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and local government units (LGUs) also do their part in implementation of the laws.
As proven, many countries are one in trying to keep the world?s streets as safe as possible. With all kinds of motor vehicles on the road, plus a multitude of other factors affecting safety, it is certainly a Herculean task. This is why it comes as no surprise that both government and non-government groups have unanimously banded together for one of man?s modern day challenges.
In all, the common thrust of these organizations is to be able to establish effective regulations, objectively enforce the laws, consistently maintain and continuously improve the safety of land transportation. More groups will surely go to greater lengths in preserving the most important and most valuable asset of all: human life.