NHTSA lays out three-year plan

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has made public its rulemaking priorities for the next three years, most of which revolve around getting automotive and truck manufacturers to add a range of new safety technology to their products. For the near term, NHTSA plans to focus on enforcing Transportation, Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act requirements, including improving vehicle tires and adding automatic tire pressure monitoring systems to vehicles. Through 2005, NHTSA said it plans to explore possible rulemaking actions to address the incompatibility in crashes between passenger cars and light trucks, dynamic stability control, roadway departure collision avoidance systems, and the reduction of driver distractions. NHTSA also wants to "influence" the automotive industry to incorporate new safety technology in their products. That plan is organized along several broad categories; light vehicle crash prevention and occupant protection, incompatibility between passenger cars and light trucks, heavy truck safety, and special populations protection, which includes safety for children, people with disabilities and older people. NHTSA administrator Jeffrey Runge said the ultimate goal is to reduce motor vehicle crash fatalities. There were 6.4 million motor vehicle crashes in 2000 that killed 41,821 and injured more than 3 million, and NHTSA's preliminary data from 2001 indicates that the number of highway fatalities remains at over 41,000. "These crashes result in an estimated annual cost of $230.6 billion, or an average of $820 for every person living in the United States," he said.

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