GAO conducted a review of small car safety because of concern about the issue and because of disagreement over alleged safety problems. GAO reviewed numerous research studies as well as analyzed accident data gathered from New York, Michigan, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Transportation||1. The Secretary of Transportation should determine which smaller car safety issues need the Nation's greatest attention and which countermeasures can be used to reduce accidents, injuries, and fatalities involving small cars. The Secretary should examine all relevant sources of available accident and test information, but emphasis should be given to using accident data. The Secretary should also: (1) establish standard units of measure to define all sizes of passenger cars; and (2) include an examination of the contributing effects of both the driver and roadway on smaller car performance.|
|Department of Transportation||2. The Secretary of Transportation should use one or more of the following techniques to determine which small car safety issues are most important: (1) organize a task force composed of Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and NHTSA personnel, advisors from federal agencies, states, and industry, and vehicle and highway safety experts; (2) develop a special studies program on smaller cars to be carried out with the National Accident Sampling System teams and to be reviewed by both NHTSA and FHWA; and (3) develop a program to use accident data from several selected states on a continuing basis to supplement test data which is available.|
|Department of Transportation||3. The Secretary of Transportation should use the results of this examination to rank research priorities.|