Unwarranted Delays by the Department of Transportation To Improve Light Truck Safety

CED-78-119: Published: Jul 6, 1978. Publicly Released: Jul 6, 1978.

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Since the first federal motor vehicle safety standards were promulgated in 1967, passenger car safety has noticeably improved. The same has not been true for light trucks. During the early 1970's, light trucks were noted to have safety problems which may have been due, in part, to their exemption from certain safety standards. At that time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) took little direct action to investigate the extent and seriousness of these problems. Although more detailed accident data have become available since then, the Safety Administration has not fully analyzed them to assess the extent of potential safety problems.

NHTSA developed a series of vehicle categories, subcategories, and definitions to use in applying safety standards, but these categories are of little value to consumers interested in determining what safety features are installed on vehicles. The consumer cannot depend on receiving accurate and complete safety information from vehicle dealers. NHTSA has generally not acted to improve the safety of light trucks; it has not researched safety devices and has not completed rulemaking on needed safety features. Some of the safety features currently required for passenger cars are appropriate for light trucks, and other safety features need to be examined in greater depth to assess their need and the feasibility of applying them to light trucks.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct NHTSA to take actions to improve the safety of light trucks. In cases where the need for safety features is known and applying the safety features to light trucks appears feasible, expeditious rulemaking should be initiated; in cases where the need or feasibility is in doubt, appropriate research should be begun. The Secretary should also take steps to provide prospective buyers with accessible objective information on the relative safety of the wide variety of vehicles offered for sale.

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