Toyota, NHTSA, safety advocates and the need to address the real cause of accidents.

Every single day there’s a new article citing an issue with Toyota.

There are certainly plenty of questions on all sides of the issue.  Are Toyotas safe? Are Toyota’s designs faulty?  Did Toyota hold back information?  Is Toyota evil? Is NHTSA just “a lap dog” for the auto manufacturers and simply trying to cover its you know what?  Were our elected officials just grand standing for their own benefit? Is the Federal Government going after Toyota because it owns a big chunk of GM and Chrysler. Are these allegations of Toyotas run amok the creation of lawyers and their clients who see the deep pockets of Toyota?

I’ve come to the opinion that we are worrying about the wrong things. Don’t misunderstand me, if Toyota has committed some act of malfeasance then we should prove it and Toyota should bear responsibility, but in the meantime have we missed the most important point?

This past Thursday the Wall Street Journal ran an article headlined: “Toyota Complaints Surged After First Recall.”   In this article it reports a variety of NHTSA data and discusses the most recent Toyota UA incident in San Diego that took place the day before.  It also reports that: “Toyota’s troubles are raising anxiety in the auto industry that Congress will enact a new round of regulations proposed by safety advocates.”  The article goes on to say that “About 95% of auto accidents are caused by driver error, according to a 2005 NHTSA study.  About 2% of accidents are caused by problems with the vehicle.”

Talk about misplaced emphasis.  We’re going to further regulate the auto manufacturers, increasing their costs which will then be passed on to their customers so that we can reduce infinitesimally the number of accidents that today, without regulation, only represent 2% of accidents!?  Doesn’t it seem more fruitful to work on the big number, the 95% that are due to driver error?

What would happen if we took all the time and money that the regulators will spend developing, enacting and policing new regulations on the manufacturers and used it to make us better drivers? What if we made it a requirement that all drivers go to driving school where they learn how to manage their vehicle in critical situations?  What if we actually make Americans better more skilled drivers, so they make fewer mistakes?

95% of accidents are caused by driver error.  Enacting legislation that would require us to be more proficient drivers, thereby reducing driver error, would seem like a better way to make a significant difference in the number of accidents.  The “safety advocates” need to work on the real cause of accidents.

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2 Responses to “Toyota, NHTSA, safety advocates and the need to address the real cause of accidents.”


    Toyota, NHTSA, safety advocates and the need to address the real cause of accidents. « McNaughton Automotive Perspectives

  2. Cameron says:

    Thanks George. It would be great if we could get our elected officials to concentrate on things that might actually make a difference. Something as simple as driving tests every 10 years would be a terrific improvement.

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