Monday, May 09, 2005

 

Explorer Roof Concerns, Continued

As a follow-up to my previous posts on the topic, it seems that Ford has requested that NHTSA pull documentation from the DOT's website. Presumably, the information was from Ford's FMVSS submittal.*

This, Ford claims, was done in the name of "protecting trade secrets". This, of course, can fairly be intepreted as a thinly-disguised attempt to keep potentially damaging information out of the public domain. I remain skeptical:

The documents include test data suggesting that roofs on Ford Explorers were made progressively weaker during the 1990s to the point where they were barely more robust than required by the federal standard. The Explorer roofs have a "less than desirable safety margin," said a Ford engineer in an e-mail in October 1999.

Yes, safety belts will prevent the majority of deaths in rollover accidents, and supposedly GM has data showing that roof strength is not a significant factor in rollover safety. Intuition still says that collapsing roofs are bad for the people inside.

*NHTSA operates under a "self-policing" concept where the OEMs are in charge of proving their compliance with rules, and this means submitting a lot of paperwork - which reasonably could be expected to end up in the public domain, especially in light of a safety issue

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