The Vehicle Submersion Project
This initiative will answer critical questions about the scope of the drowning problem when vehicles go into water and about how some occupants survive. What little research that has been done is sparse and contradictory. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently published incomplete data on the number of incidences, after conducting some escape studies in the 1970s. Their conclusions, suggesting that the occupants were already dead or severely injured before the vehicle entered the water, are not borne out by other studies. People can and do survive vehicle immersions. We also know that current technologies can both aid and hamper escape from a sinking vehicle. The TSI’s Vehicle Submersion Project will determine:
The scope of the safety problem via comprehensive data collection
What can be learned about submersion prevention from those incidences
The characteristics of submersion survival
Design, engineering, and public education solutions
Vehicle Safety Watch List and Analytics and NHTSA Enforcement Program
This program will release quarterly and annual reports monitoring vehicle defect trends and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recall and enforcement activities. Top trending vehicle safety issues will provide the public with a timely analysis of the most significant problems in the U.S. fleet. Using publicly available data such as NHTSA consumer complaints, and manufacturer reported Early Warning Reports on deaths and injuries and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (F ARS), The Safety Institute will use peer-reviewed analytic methodologies to identify potential motor vehicle safety defects that should be investigated further. With statistical support from
Quality Control Systems Corp., The Safety Institute will release a quarterly Watch List of vehicle problems and an annual report identifying emerging defect trends by issue, manufacture and vehicle and assessing the efficacy of the agency’s enforcement activities.
The annual report will use the F ARS data to generate an annual look-back for incidents involving tire factors, fires, and rollovers. In addition, the Monitoring Report will link Vehicle Owners Questionnaires and Early Warning Reporting injury and fatality data back to recalls and defect investigations. This report will examine the state of active and completed recalls -the rate of vehicle and equipment remedies, the completeness of Part 573 Defect and Noncompliance Reports.
The Safety Institute’s Analytics and Monitoring Program reports will provide evidence-based data for directing investigatory resources. They also represent an important step toward identifying potentially emerging vehicle defects.
These resources will be publicly accessible to anyone who wants to understand:
Emerging safety problems
How the NHTSA’s investigative choices correlate to safety problems reported by automakers and consumers
How well NHTSA is enforcing the recall requirements.
This program is sponsored by Lance Cooper, of the Cooper Firm in Marietta, Ga., in memory of Brooke Melton, who died in a 2010 crash caused by the sudden failure of the ignition in her 2005 Chevy Cobalt.